San Diego County Democratic Party Unanimously Endorses Community Choice Energy


SAN DIEGO, September 20, 2017— Climate Action Campaign is excited to announce that the San Diego County Democratic Party has unanimously endorsed Community Choice Energy in the city of San Diego.

Together, we are taking meaningful steps to help offer families the freedom of energy choice, reduce energy costs, increase the use of local clean energy, support local jobs and economic development, and meet our Climate Action Plan goal of 100% renewable energy by 2035.


September 20, 2017

Sebastian Sarria
(619) 419-1222

Climate Action Campaign is the leading climate watchdog organization with a simple mission: stop climate change and protect our quality of life with 100% clean energy. For more information, please visit

Local Businesses, Civic Leaders Form Group in Opposition of Community Choice Energy

CPX Editor’s Note: Clear the Air Coalition is a product of the CPUC approved and shareholder-funded marketing arm of SDG&E’s parent company, Sempra Energy. 

This post includes an audio stream from a KPBS Midday Edition interview with two members of the Clear the Air Coalition: Ruben Barrales of the Latino Leadership & Policy Forum and Lani Lutar of Responsible Solutions.

Please also see the video at the end of the post titled, “Clear the Air” produced by Sempra Services. 


A group of San Diego business and civic leaders announced Thursday they have formed a coalition to question a move toward community choice energy, which would allow San Diego’s municipal government to acquire power separately from the local utility.

The Clear the Air Coalition includes former Mayor Jerry Sanders, currently president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, Frank Urtasun of Sempra Energy, and Joe Panetta, who leads the life sciences industry trade group Biocom, among others.

A city of San Diego study released in July found that a community choice program would be a key factor in reaching a goal of generating 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, part of the city’s plan to address climate change.

Community choice allows local governments to purchase electricity on behalf of customers within their jurisdiction. Locally, that would mean the city would not necessarily have to go through San Diego Gas and Electric to acquire energy.

Sanders said the report raised “several important questions — the most significant being cost. It is impossible to tell right now what the cost would be because the California Public Utilities Commission is still determining fee structures that would impact local governments deciding to launch a CCA program.”

The CPUC could make decisions on costs over the next year and a half.

The coalition said before such a program is adopted, city officials need to be sure that it achieves “real and additional” greenhouse gas emission reductions and not burden taxpayers with significant financial risk.

“We want to reduce (greenhouse gas) emissions and increase renewable energy sources, but we want to make sure we’re doing it the right way,” said Haney Hong, a coalition member and president and CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.

“The plan before the city of San Diego might be a good idea, but it also might be a bad one,” Hong said. “We simply don’t know because there are too many unknowns.”

Lani Lutar, who preceded Hong at the taxpayer’s group, noted that pending state legislation would require that utilities deliver 100 percent clean energy by 2045, which would accomplish the climate change plan’s goal without putting the government in the energy acquisition business.

Climate Action Campaign Executive Director Nicole Capretz, who strongly supports community choice, said the program is time-tested and has “undeniable” advantages for families and small businesses.

“Every single organization in this coalition is supported handsomely by SDG&E and its parent company, Sempra Energy, which spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to purchase the enabling silence of business groups so they can maintain their monopoly stranglehold on San Diego customers,” Capretz said.

“That’s why San Diego families are stuck paying the highest rates in the state, while customers in all of the counties that have adopted community choice energy are enjoying lower bills with more clean energy.”

The city of Solana Beach is developing plans for a community choice energy program, while the cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar and Encinitas are studying the idea.

The Board of Supervisors earlier this year declined to study community choice for unincorporated areas.

Local Businesses, Civic Leaders Form Group in Opposition of Community Choice Energy, by City News Service, KPBS, September 14, 2017.

3 Things to Watch as the City Ponders a Major Power Switch

It’s fair to say that public power agencies are taking the state by storm. They are known as community choice aggregators, or CCAs.

Dozens of cities across the state are talking about parting ways with their local power companies. Eight other local governments, mostly in Northern California, already have.

San Diego is one of the cities considering a CCA, and it recently learned it might be able to buy cheaper and greener energy than San Diego Gas & Electric. But the city must deal with questions about the study’s findings, hostility to government-run power and even factors well beyond its control, like new laws and regulations from the state Legislature or the California Public Utilities Commission.

By January, the mayor and City Council are expected to decide if the city should begin buying power for the city’s 1.4 million residents from someone other than San Diego Gas & Electric.

But expect a series of hurdles – foreseen and unforeseen – that try to stall, undermine or kill their plans.

In the past, SDG&E and its allies have fended off other attempts to challenge the company’s monopoly in San Diego County.

Marin Clean Energy in the San Francisco Bay area was the first community choice agency to make it through a gauntlet of such opposition, namely a multimillion-dollar campaign against it by Pacific Gas & Electric.

Right now, the movement is picking up speed, but community choice advocates remain worried. They often wonder what will be thrown at them. That’s one reason they formed their own trade group recently, CalCCA.

The group had its work cut out for it this week, when community choice advocates dodged a major bullet in Sacramento. The Legislature was rushing along a bill that would have effectively frozen the formation of new community choice agencies.

The measure died earlier this week. But it was not the first nor likely the last threat to community choice.

Other Legislative Threats

At a legislative hearing in late August, some lawmakers suggested they would like to at least temporarily halt the stampede of cities entering the energy market in order to compete with power companies. The lawmaker who led the hearing, San Diego Sen. Ben Hueso, has since indicated to community choice advocates that he doesn’t support such a freeze.

In 2014, an electrical workers union-backed a bill that would have made community choice agencies opt in rather than opt out. Right now, if the city of San Diego formed a community choice agency, everybody in the city would automatically be signed up for it, unless they opted out. If the bill had passed, people would have had to sign up to get the agency’s power, a seemingly small difference but one that would have effectively starved the city of any customers since few people opt in to such programs.

Because the economics of power purchasing depend in part on scale, a community choice agency without many customers would have been untenable.

“To have a really small load, you can’t get the right pricing to serve everybody,” said Shalini Swaroop, deputy general counsel for Marin Clean Energy, the state’s first CCA.

Such threats from the Legislature seem to be kept at bay for now.

Power Company Exit Fees

Last week, Sempra Services Corporation – a lobbying arm of SDG&E’s parent company, Sempra Energy – released a list of things that it says must happen for a San Diego CCA to make sense. Whether it’s a sincere to-do list or an unreasonably high set of bars is debatable.

First, according to Sempra, customers who are stuck with SDG&E must not be forced to subsidize customers who switch to getting power from a government-run CCA.

Soon, half or more of SDG&E’s customers could be in places where there is community choice, like the city. But that means the other half may be stuck paying for power the company already bought for everyone who left, like customers in small East County towns.

It’s like ordering a bunch of pizza for a raging party. Power companies want to make sure everybody pays for the pizza, even the people who left before the delivery guy came.

There’s a formula-based exit fee designed to make sure this doesn’t happen. For a community choice agency to make financial sense for ratepayers, it will have to be able to buy power so cheaply that its customers can afford both its power and paying off SDG&E. Predictably enough, the community choice advocates say the fees are too high, the power companies say they are too low.

For now, customers are being asked to pay fees based on information few people besides the power companies have access to.

Neal Reardon, regulatory affairs manager at Sonoma Clean Power, another community choice agency, said some of the information that goes into calculating the exit fees is considered a trade secret by PG&E. So, Sonoma hired a consultant who signed a non-disclosure agreement with PG&E to look over the power company’s books. The consultant can’t talk with Sonoma about everything he sees. That leaves Reardon, his agency and his customers in the dark about how the exit fees are calculated and what they will be from one year to the next.

If they had access to this information, Reardon said his agency could make some projections to protect customers. For instance, if the exit fee was going to go up 10 percent one year and then down 10 percent in the next, Sonoma could insulate its customers from a temporary rate increase. Right now, though, PG&E makes its exit fee public annually and without a tremendous amount of notice, which has the potential to send Sonoma customers on a roller coaster ride. Sharing more data might go a long way toward reducing uncertainty.

To add complications, the California Public Utilities Commission is talking about changing the formula. According to Sempra, “Until the exit fees have been determined, the costs of implementing a CCA are largely a wild guess.” The company says the city should wait for the CPUC to act, which could take another year.

Or, it urges the creation of a county-wide community choice agency – so that all SDG&E customers would then become community choice customers – a feat that would require politicians representing Jamul, Carlsbad, San Diego, El Cajon and San Marcos to get on the same page about contentious public policy.

Renewable Energy Rules

The other hurdles Sempra proposes are related: A San Diego community choice agency must provide “real and additional environmental benefits” and “reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” the company says.

The main reason San Diego wants to form a CCA is to ensure that 100 percent of electricity sold within city limits comes from renewable sources by 2035.

SDG&E has suggested it’s just not possible to have a reliable grid now without natural gas, which can be burned to generate electricity when the wind is flat and the sun is behind a cloud.

But Sempra also points to a bill – which now appears to be stalled in the Legislature – that gives California the goal of having all its electricity come from renewable sources by 2045. If that happens, Sempra argues, why does the city need to start its own power-buying operation to achieve a goal that everyone will have to achieve anyway?

Haney Hong, head of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, said he worries the city may be willing to take financial risks to start an energy-buying operation only to achieve modest victories against climate change.

“You get to the point where you have to ask, is the juice worth the squeeze?” he said.

3 Things to Watch as the City Ponders a Major Power Switch, by Ry Rivard, Voice of San Diego, September 14, 2017.

Clear the Air Coalition Launches in San Diego

CPX Editor’s Note: Clear the Air Coalition is a product of the CPUC approved and shareholder-funded marketing arm of SDG&E’s parent company, Sempra Energy. 

A new coalition, Clear the Air, has been formed to urge the City of San Diego to achieve its ambitious Climate Action goals in a cost-effective manner that benefits our environment, stimulates the economy and protects local families and businesses. The City’s consideration of a government-run energy program, or Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), is the first major opportunity to ensure costs and benefits are fully considered before critical climate decisions are made.

“The City of San Diego’s unanimous passage of a landmark Climate Action Plan is something we can all be proud of,” said coalition member Ruben Barrales, President of the Latino Leadership & Policy Forum. “It’s now time to build on that collaborative effort and have a robust discussion that helps achieve our climate goals in a way that benefits all San Diegans.”

The City of San Diego recently released a draft report on CCA, a proposed program that would place the city in charge of buying and selling energy for its residents. Clear the Air believes CCA should achieve these two requirements for it to gain support of the San Diego City Council and Mayor Kevin Faulconer:

  1. Fulfill the 100 percent renewable energy goals in the city’s Climate Action Plan through real and additional GHG emission reductions.
  2. ‍Not burden taxpayers with significant financial risk in the short- or long-term.

“We want to reduce GHG emissions and increase renewable energy sources, but we want to make sure we’re doing it the right way,” said Haney Hong, a coalition member and President/CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. “The plan before the City of San Diego might be a good idea, but it also might be a bad one. We simply don’t know because there are too many unknowns. Ultimately, we need to know much more about what this government-controlled energy operation would cost taxpayers and whether it would really result in emissions reductions.”

The coalition was formed this month and includes the following members:

  • Catherine Arambula, Community Leader
  • Ruben Barrales, Latino Leadership & Policy Forum
  • Pastor Terry Brooks, Bayview Baptist Church
  • Rev. Gerald Brown, United African American Ministerial Action Council
  • Stephen Cushman, Local Businessman
  • Dan Hom, Focuscom
  • Haney Hong, San Diego County Taxpayers Association
  • Lani Lutar, Responsible Solutions
  • Kris Michell, Downtown San Diego Partnership
  • Jack Monger, Industrial Environmental Association
  • Joe Panetta, BIOCOM
  • Jerry Sanders, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Frank Urtasun, Sempra Services
  • Earl Wong, Asian Business Association

“The City of San Diego’s Draft CCA Report raises several important questions – the most significant being cost,” Sanders said. “It’s impossible to tell right now what the cost would be because the California Public Utilities Commission is still determining fee structures that would impact local governments deciding to launch a CCA program.”

A clear picture of the true costs and benefits of CCA is expected to emerge within 18 months, and depending on what the CPUC decides, the Draft Report points out San Diego taxpayers could conservatively face a $2.8 billion bill under CCA – and possibly much more.

“If that happens, it would not be any different from the pension crisis our city is still digging out of,” Lutar said.

The city’s report also notes that that the earliest a government-operated CCA could begin to incrementally reduce GHG emissions in San Diego is 2026, and nothing modeled in the report meets the city’s 100% renewable goal.

“What you can say about existing CCAs is, at best, they’re underwhelming,” Monger said. “They’re simply not doing what they promise to do – reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Marin Clean Energy is the only CCA in California, through 2016, that has had any of its energy generated from newly constructed renewable energy sources. Marin began serving customers in 2011. Since then, in no one year has it generated more than 10 percent of its power from new renewable sources.”

It is also important to point out that a legislative bill moving forward in Sacramento, SB 100, would establish a policy goal requiring utilities in California to use zero carbon energy sources by 2045. It could be law this year.

“If SB 100 is signed into law, the cost-benefit-risk analysis of CCA would change overnight,” Lutar said.

She added: “Does it make sense for the city to put its balance sheet on the line? To put politicians and bureaucrats in charge of buying and selling our energy, especially when you consider there is pending legislation in Sacramento that would essentially achieve the same renewable goals without any of the financial risks the city would incur under CCA?

Lutar also noted that, “the projections in the Draft Report are all over the map. We must have more certainty before handing over our energy-procurement keys to politicians inexperienced with managing the risks of the complex energy commodity market. The public has a right to scrutinize the modeling that was used to determine whether CCA is feasible for the city. Using secretive, proprietary modeling with billions of tax dollars on the line is unacceptable.”

Pastor Brooks said: “The city’s draft report does a nice job of pointing out potential risks and rewards. Now it’s important that we have a community discussion featuring a diverse range of voices before critical decisions are made about our city’s future that will affect generations to come.”

Learn more about the Clear the Air coalition at:

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Media contact: Tony Manolatos

619.549.0137 |


The Clear the Air Coalition is a group of business, environmental, civic and taxpayer leaders working to ensure a diverse range of voices is heard and important questions are answered before critical decisions are made about San Diego’s climate future.


Tom Steyer’s Message on Climate Change Comes to San Diego

More than 400 San Diegans arrived at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Hillcrest Thursday evening to hear an energetic message on clean energy and climate action from advocate and philanthropist Tom Steyer.

Organized by the grassroots climate action organization SanDiego350, the talk was open to the public and co-sponsored by more than 20 local community groups. In a week that brought devastation from natural disasters — hurricanes Harvey in Houston and Irma in Florida; wildfires on the West Coast; flooding in Pakistan and Bangladesh; and landslides in Sierra Leone — and controversial political announcements, the clarity of Steyer’s clean energy mission was warmly received.

Steyer with Rev Bridges pre-lecture. Credit Bee Mittermiller

After a moment of silence for the victims of the recent natural disasters, Steyer — the epitome of the casual Californian dressed in a t-shirt and slacks — began by noting the irony that hurricanes Harvey and Irma struck big oil and gas regions, the home of climate denial.

“This is not a phenomenon that will spare you just because you don’t believe in it,” he said. “Let’s not waste the pain.”

Steyer continued with the good news that it’s now cheaper to build new renewable energy plants than it is to maintain existing coal and gas plants and the prediction that renewable energy costs will continue to fall as battery storage technology advances.

He described clean energy as a “giant jobs program for the middle class,” comparing the prosperity of a nation like Japan — which has no oil and gas industry — versus Venezuela, one of the world’s largest oil exporters.

During questions from the audience, the issue of the different leveraging powers of grassroots organizations versus the massive personal wealth of a philanthropist like Steyer was raised: How can low-income groups be engaged in climate advocacy?

Steyer’s responded that climate policies — like clean air acts or vehicle regulations — must first and foremost help and protect lower-income communities and communities of color. He cited the example of California towns where thousands of passing diesel trucks have led to an increase of childhood asthma rates of up to 70 percent in poor neighborhoods close to freeways.

A sick child cannot attend school, explained Steyer, which impacts their future.

Steyer was optimistic when asked about another elephant in the room — political partisanship — asserting that most Republican voters support clean energy, though their support is “cold comfort” while Republican elected officials are “violently against us.”

His final message? “Tell the truth,” he urged, “and let people be smart. Because they are smart and decent.”

San Diego City Councilmember Barbara Bry spoke following Steyer, outlining San Diego’s plans for a Community Choice Energy (CCE) program. CCE allows cities and counties to purchase power on behalf of residents to provide cleaner power options at competitive prices. Bry drew on Steyer’s message that clean energy would bring prosperity to the San Diego region through jobs and innovation, with reinvestment in the local economy, rather than payouts to shareholders.

Joyce Lane of SanDiego350 concluded the event by posing two action items to the audience: to contact the mayor and City Council to express support for CCE and to contact their state assembly member to express support for SB100 — a bill in the California legislature that would set a 100 percent renewable energy goal for California by 2045.

Postcards advocating CCE and addressed to the mayor and the City Council were distributed to audience-members, which were signed and returned to SanDiego350 for hand-delivery. CCE will go to a council vote in early 2018. SB100 goes to a final vote in the California Assembly before Friday, September 15.

Another strong message from Steyer was the need for climate activism to join forces with a progressive coalition that “wins on everything.” This includes immigration rights, reproductive rights, and economic equality.

The event’s co-sponsoring organizations, represented by members at display tables in the St. Paul’s forecourt before Steyer’s talk, together demonstrated what a coalition of grassroots groups can look like. While some groups exclusively combat climate change, others have begun addressing climate change as a crucial component of related campaigns.

Steyer Greeting audience members. Credit: Bill Wellhouse

The Democratic Woman’s Club of San Diego County is targeting climate change as a women’s issue because of its disproportionate effects on women, especially women of color and low-income women.

The Club president, Susan Peinado, explained the economic uncertainties of a changing climate threaten individuals in precarious economic circumstances — such as those in low-paying service industry jobs, most of which are filled by women. The impact of resource scarcity and price fluctuations in utilities will also be most acutely felt by low-income households.

The San Diego chapter of Interfaith Worker Justice has also lately begun addressing climate justice as a key factor in economic and labor justice.

“It’s not enough to believe,” member Steve Rivera asserted. “You have to walk your faith”.

The San Diego chapter of the Sierra Club, a long-time advocate for wildlife and the environment, has been throwing its weight behind local issues, such as working to dismantle the San Onofre nuclear power plant; clean up sewage spills in the Tijuana estuary; and detoxify the Salton Sea.

The club’s several action committees — some bi-national — have achieved environmental successes where local governments have stalled. And their efforts have intensified this year.

“We have an Irma in the White House,” said Karenlee Robinson, a steering committee member, “A hurricane of bad decisions.”

Ruben Arizmendi, steering committee chair, explained the need to engage with climate deniers. Hope for this effort comes from China, a nation which has previously taken minimal climate action, but is now “coming ’round to the full realization that you cannot deny climate change”.

Stay Cool 4 Grandkids is also a locally-focused organization, mobilizing seniors and grandparents to take action on climate change. Founding member Peg Engel described the group’s motivation as “harnessing the moral authority of elders,” and taking a multi-generational approach by leading children’s programs.

Lake San Marcos Democratic Club’s president Gary Bland insisted on the crucial role of community organizations to influence and compensate for an equivocating legislature.

“I don’t think they know what their role is,” said Bland of Congress. “They should be doing a lot more”.

The event’s other co-sponsoring organizations included NextGen America; San Diego CALSEIA; Change Begins with ME (Indivisible); Citizens Climate Lobby San Diego; Climate Action Campaign; San Diego Coastkeeper; American Federation of Teachers Guild Local 1931; North County Climate Change Alliance; San Diego Climate Mobilization Coalition; Equinox Project; Preserve Calavera; Martin Luther King, Jr., Democratic Club; Pt Loma Democratic Club; La Jolla Democratic Club; Escondido Democratic Club; and the Democratic Club of Carlsbad/Oceanside.

Celeste Oram is a composer, musician, writer, and SD350 volunteer from Aotearoa New Zealand, currently studying at UC San Diego. No, she is not far from home; the Great Pacific Oceanic Highway does more to connect us than divide us.

Tom Steyer’s Message on Climate Change Comes to San Diego, by Celeste Oram, San Diego Free Press, September 13, 2017.

Tesla Camper Electrifies Visitors at Stadium EV Show

Craig Blasingame showed off his 2014 Tesla outfitted with a sleeping area to raise awareness of how electric cars can fit outdoor lifestyles.

For the Coronado resident, it’s all about spreading the word. And Saturday, he thinks he persuaded three people to make the switch from gas to electric.

People stood in line to test drive vehicles.

People stood in line to test-drive vehicles made by Tesla, BMW, Kia, Honda, Volkswagen, Chevrolet and Ford. Photo by Chris Stone

“If all of the EV owners today could talk one person into it, and one person talks someone else into it, it won’t be too many years before we are all electric and I think that’s a desirable thing to be,” he said at the third annual Electric Vehicle Day at the stadium formerly known as Qualcomm.

San Diego Gas and Electric Co. hosted the event that included test drives of electric vehicles, electric bicycles and scooters, displays of an electric city bus, school bus, trucks, semi trucks and electric charger suppliers.

In addition to SDG&E, the event was sponsored by Cleantech San Diego and the Center for Sustainable Energy during National Drive Electric Week.

In the stadium’s open parking lot, attendees weren’t talking about the Chargers but ways to charge their cars to avoid the gas pump.

One making the switch after talking to Tesla owner Blasingame was Kevin Huang of Rancho Bernardo, who was sold on the car’s cost, driving experience, torque and stability.

But saying goodbye to the gas pump and driving an ecological car were his main incentives.

He came to the stadium with questions about the cost of charging, mileage range of battery power and availability of charging stations. He looked over models from makers including BMW, Ford, Nissan, Honda, Volkswagen, Chevrolet and Kia.

Twenty-plus models were available to inspect.

For Huang and many of the 1,800 attendees, the Tesla model S drew the most attention with the longest waiting line for test drives. (The new Model 3, starting at $35,000, wasn’t available.)

Britta McNealy and her brother Peyton take a spin in a mini electric car

Britta McNealy, 2, and her brother Peyton, 6, take a spin in a mini electric car on Electric Vehicle Day. Photo by Chris Stone

But a steady stream of drivers took a variety of makes and models for a spin.

“The idea is to get San Diegans behind the wheel of an electric car because it’s not until you drive it do you feel the torque and the excitement of the car,” said April Bolduc, electric vehicle customer engagement manager for SDG&E.

The biggest concerns among those who inspected the electric cars were battery range and ability to easily recharge the car.

Huang said he worried about having a constant concern about where his next charge would come from, but with the 200-mile range on some of the cars, he thought longer drives was doable.

Randy Schimka of SDG&E told the crowd about the Power Your Drive program in which the utility is installing 3,500 charging stations at 350 multiunit dwellings and workplaces with funding from the California Public Utilities Commission.

Schimka expressed hope that with more chargers on the market, the charging units would become a lot more affordable.

Most electric vehicle owners charge their cars in their own garages, he said.

But while people in apartments and condos may find charging more challenging, SDG&E can install meters on outdoor apartment outlets for individual customers with a landlord’s approval.

SDG&E representatives also discussed federal tax credits and state rebates available to EV owners, in addition to the company’s Power Your Drive program offering reduced rates for charging cars between midnight and 5 a.m.

Ryall Wilson of Allied Gardens had a future purchase in mind as he surveyed the models.
“I like the whole concept of not using gas,” he said.

“I had no idea that there were so many to choose from,” Wilson said. He said he was particularly interested in the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt.

Craig Blasingame shows the route he and his wife took as they traveled

Craig Blasingame shows the route he and his wife took as they traveled by Tesla and bike. Photo by Chris Stone

“I am really excited,” he said. “I had no idea that there were so many to choose from. It will be a fun decision-making process.”

Electric scooters and bicycles also grabbed people’s attention.

San Diego Electric Bike in Solana Beach brought a selection of pedal and nonpedal bikes and scooters for people to try out.

“I think it’s great,” Duane Wittmeier of Mira Mesa said after a test ride. “You go up a hill and get a little bit of extra [power] so you don’t have to exert yourself.”

People rode Phat Scooters that go up to 20 miles an hour, have a beach, golf and bike mode, range from 30 to 50 miles per charge depending on speed and four hours to charge.

The $1,700 scooters are customizable for surfboard and golf club racks.

The electric bikes allow riders to go faster and farther in mountain bike, beach cruiser and road bikes. The nearly $2,000 Magnum Metro is the most popular, said Brian Ruehl of San Diego Electric Bike.

An all-electric bus from Build Your Dreams in Lancaster also was on display. While not in use in the San Diego area, more than 100 40-foot buses are used in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Antelope Valley, Lancaster and Indianapolis and throughout the world.

The name Qualcomm has been stripped from the Mission Valley stadium sign.

The name Qualcomm has been stripped from the Mission Valley stadium sign. Photo by Chris Stone

For a comparable price as gas models, James Holtz, a fleet manager for BYD, said the bus can run 250 miles on a charge for a full bus with air conditioning running.

Last year, the Metropolitan Transit System invested in a fleet of propane fueled buses in San Diego.
While people looked over the electric buses and cars, Tesla owner Blasingame was trying to persuade others of the virtue of electric cars.

Blasingame added 35,000 miles to his Tesla when he took coastal tours on both sides of the country and in a Route 66 journey from Santa Monica to Chicago, staying overnight in campgrounds where he refueled.
A phone app allows him to program either air conditioning or heating overnight while he and his wife sleep in the back.

He said he had no problems fueling up across the nation except in Pennsylvania, where local officials wouldn’t allow the fueling stations at campgrounds because such cars don’t generate gas tax income.
On his first journey, people had a lot of questions about his curiosity generating car.

One fellow camper was dumbfounded when he looked at Blasingame’s EV.

“You know, you ain’t got no motor,” the camper said. Blasingame assured him it was under the car.

Tesla Camper Electrifies Visitors at Stadium EV Show, by Chris Stone, Times of San Diego, September 9, 2017

Cac Supports SB 100 (De León): Community Choice Is Key Strategy in Transition to 100% Clean Energy

September 1, 2017–Climate Action Campaign joined with our allies at a press conference this morning to support Senate Bill 100 (De León), which would ensure that California generates 100% of its electricity from renewable and carbon-free sources by 2045.

CAC with Bill Walton, retired basketball player and solar energy enthusiast.

Supporters of the bill, including BlueGreen Alliance, California Interfaith Power & Light, Climate Action Campaign, Environment California, IBEW Local 569, SanDiego350, Sullivan Solar Power and Environmental Health Coalition, spoke to the economic, health, and environmental benefits of 100% clean energy.

Climate Action Campaign believes that the most innovative and effective solutions to the climate crisis are rooted in the community. Community Choice Energy is one such community-based initiative that will play a critical role in transitioning San Diego to 100% clean energy. This program can:

  • Clean the air by greening the grid
  • Lower electricity rates by introducing competition into the electricity marketplace
  • Offer families consumer choice rather than just a for-profit monopoly
  • Reinvest revenue back into the community, rather than shareholder pocketbooks
  • Generate local economic development and support green jobs


Legislation to move our whole state to 100% clean energy is a laudable, feasible, and necessary step. Let’s meet the 100% challenge with programs designed by and for our local communities that maximize the benefits of the transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

Cac Supports SB 100 (De León): Community Choice Is Key Strategy in Transition to 100% Clean Energy, by Staff, Climate Action Campaign, September 1, 2017.

Community Choice Aggregation – Change Could Prove Risky


The city of San Diego jumped to the forefront of the fight against climate change in late 2015 with adoption of its Climate Action Plan. This commitment earned the city much praise, and we at the San Diego County Taxpayers Association supported it with the caveat that we must achieve these goals cost effectively. Let’s maximize our greenhouse gas reduction with as few dollars as possible; we have many public problems, like homelessness, to tackle with finite resources.

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) is one option in the Climate Action Plan to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, and because San Diegans have trusted us for three-quarters of a century to do our homework, we have several questions about the CCA proposal before the mayor and City Council. We hope city leaders are searching for the same answers we are — basic fiduciary management demands it.

Under CCA, the city would enter into the energy business, buying and selling power to local customers while committing to supplying power generated from renewable sources. A draft CCA report the city recently released indicates that in some scenarios CCA could be feasible or even beneficial. By the report’s own assumptions, however, many unquantified risks would accompany CCA. In fact, the report highlights this concern as one of its primary conclusions.

How much would CCA cost to implement and operate, and what would ratepayers pay?

The city’s draft report demonstrates some positive and some negative scenarios, and the cost uncertainty is about $3 billion. In other words, we don’t know if this would be a gain of $257 million or a loss of $2.77 billion, according to the draft report. It is absolutely reasonable to demand more certainty. All of us have seen what projection errors have meant for our regional transportation agency. We don’t want to repeat the same mistake.

The city’s draft report shows scenarios where customers under a CCA would pay lower rates. But the report also points out that under the desired scenario of 100 percent renewable energy, SDG&E’s rates would actually be cheaper than CCA’s rates. With this much uncertainty on a key point, is there really enough information to justify a decision?

Would it force non-CCA customers in surrounding communities to pay more for their electricity?

One important unknown is the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA) — an “exit fee” charged to customers who leave a utility for a CCA to recoup the difference for long-term production contracts it entered into to serve a specific number of customers. Low exit fees could force ratepayers from across the region to subsidize the city for opting out of SDG&E service. The California Public Utilities Commission has 18 months to establish exit fees.

Does it make sense to pursue CCA if pending state legislation would achieve the same renewable goals without any of the financial risk the city would incur under CCA?

SB 100 is a bill progressing through Sacramento that would establish a policy goal requiring California to use zero carbon energy sources by 2045. If passed, this law could reduce the future price of renewable energy, undercutting the ability of CCAs to lower costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Would the CCA be able to build new renewable energy sources (wind farms, etc.) locally? What would they cost to construct and what would the taxpayer liabilities be?

If a CCA is unable to generate positive returns, as indicated by almost half the scenarios in the draft report, investment in renewable generation could decline. Reducing greenhouse gas production through the energy supply can only be done by increasing renewable energy generation. A failure to do so defeats the primary purpose of CCA.

Are our elected leaders asking these questions, or are they leading us down a path without doing their homework?

The draft report is a good starting point, but it also highlights the fact that we need more information to determine if this is the most cost effective approach to reducing greenhouse gasses. At a minimum, city leaders owe taxpayers answers to questions like ours before deciding whether CCA makes sense for San Diego.

The city set a positive goal with the Climate Action Plan, and San Diegans should support its aims. But city leaders willing to bet they can provide greener and cheaper power for homes and business need to determine if CCA is worth the risk before they commit to plugging in.

Hong is president and CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, where Gyorffy is a policy analyst.

Community Choice Aggregation – Change Could Prove Risky, by Haney Hong & Cameron Gyorffy, The San Diego Union-Tribune, August 25, 2017.

Power of Choice – Cheaper, Cleaner Renewables a Win


What if you could choose to power your home for less than SDG&E’s rates, using 100 percent renewable energy? Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) enables you to do just that. CCAs are city and county agencies that buy or produce electricity on behalf of their residents, and pay the utility company to deliver it. Customers gain an unprecedented choice: purchase power from the CCA or stay with the utility’s service.

Eight CCA nonprofit agencies currently serve over 1 million customers in California. Seeing the success of this approach, Los Angeles, San Jose and others are implementing CCAs. According to a California Public Utilities Commission estimate, within three years 67 percent of the state’s electricity needs may be satisfied by CCAs. By the mid-2020’s over 15 million customers could migrate from investor owned utility companies like SDG&E, to a CCA!

Meanwhile, several innovative models of CCA (also called “Community Choice Energy”) have developed. Some government agencies run the program themselves — the path that San Francisco and Solana Beach have selected. More commonly, cities and counties come together to create a single joint powers authority (JPA), like Marin Clean Energy, that operates on behalf of all the member cities and counties. The cities of Lancaster and San Jacinto, meanwhile, have formed a Hybrid JPA; each city sets its own electricity rates while sharing operating costs.

As a former Solana Beach City Council member and current member of its Climate Action Commission, I was proud when our city became the first in San Diego County to move forward with a CCA this past May. The CCA will allow the city to procure renewable energy faster and more economically than SDG&E can supply it; this is essential to meet our commitment to 100 percent renewable energy, a goal shared with the cities of San Diego and Del Mar.

What about San Diego? Will the city participate in the roaring CCA transformation?

Last month the city of San Diego released the long-awaited results of a comprehensive feasibility study of Community Choice Energy. The verdict: Community Choice is a win for San Diego and will offer cheaper, cleaner energy to families and businesses. It will also create jobs and build our local economy. Recognizing the magnitude of these findings, Mayor Kevin Faulconer declared, “We’re moving full speed ahead to reach our ultimate goal of using 100 percent renewable energy citywide, and this study shows we have the ability to get there.”

Giving San Diego control over energy decisions will also send an unmistakable market signal to our entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors. When these forces are unleashed, we can expect new forms of energy generation, delivery and competition; accelerated clean technology development, and corresponding economic benefit for our communities.

Every groundbreaking program has risks. We cannot know for sure the future fluctuations in energy or financing costs, or unfavorable regulations. However the feasibility study shows the risks can be managed.

Some critics, such as the San Diego Taxpayers Association and Sempra, argue that the costs of a local CCA may be larger than the study estimated. They also contend that adding another CCA will not increase our renewable energy supply. These points are contradicted by the financial performance of the existing CCAs. Also, Sempra/SDG&E, at its core, is a fossil fuel company. No wonder that each of the current CCAs provides a greater portion of renewable energy than their corresponding utility companies.

The San Diego City Council will decide whether to pursue Community Choice Energy. Well-resourced special interests will fight to block its adoption. People who would like to have a choice of energy providers, who favor competition, competitive rates, clean energy, local control, and innovation and economic benefits for our region, should contact their council member and local organizations that are dedicated to these outcomes, like the Climate Action Campaign.

Energy choice has arrived. Let’s bring it home!

Zahn, a former Solana Beach council member, is vice chair of the city’s Climate Action Commission, and a member of Cleantech San Diego’s board of directors.

Power of Choice – Cheaper, Cleaner Renewables a Win, by Peter Zahn, The San Diego Union-Tribune, August 25, 2017.

Power of Choice – Size Matters in Energy Business


Is it too late to stop global warming? We’re not sure, but this is not a drill. Our climate and our planet are too important for us to simply stand by as atmospheric warming poses ever-greater risks.

We need a carbon-free future sustained by clean and renewable energy from solar, wind and geothermal farms — not coal mines and oil wells — to fuel our cars, trucks, homes and businesses. So we enthusiastically embrace new ways to minimize and eliminate fossil fuel consumption.

California is home to 12 percent of America’s population and the sixth largest economy on the planet, so reducing our greenhouse gas emissions is a big deal. California leads America in the attack on greenhouse gas. In 2002, our state set a goal of 331/3 percent renewable energy by 2020, subsequently increased to 50 percent by 2030. As we write, legislation is pending in Sacramento that seeks to increase renewable electricity usage even further across the state.

Meanwhile, local governments are considering — and some are implementing — Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs. The noble reason for a city or county to create a CCA is to make clean energy a greater part of the community electricity supply. In a nutshell, a new city department guided by the mayor and city council would bypass the traditional utility, entering the energy marketplace to directly purchase the electricity required by residents and businesses.

A CCA proposal is working its way through San Diego City Hall, with hearings set this fall and a possible decision early next year. The vital question city government leaders face is whether switching from SDG&E to a CCA operating within a political system is a smart choice.

In California, there are three investor-owned utilities, plus a handful of public providers. All providers coordinate daily with the California Independent System Operator to balance energy loads and assure a dependable power supply.

If all the currently proposed California CCAs are formed, there will soon be another 30-plus, mostly small, local government entities operating within the energy purchase marketplace. The creation of these new bureaucracies strikes us as a costly and inefficient way to manage the greening of California power. Our instincts say statewide or regional co-ops would be better than multiple lone rangers. Despite our enthusiasm for a carbon-free future, we are not convinced that multiple CCAs are a safe and clear-cut improvement over the status quo — especially considering the pending clean energy bill pending in Sacramento.

In the power business, size does matter. Large utilities have greater leverage to bargain and, more importantly, pledge their huge balance sheets to support the power purchase agreements that allow large-scale and very expensive solar, wind and other renewable projects to be built in California, creating jobs and reducing emissions. CCAs must demonstrate they can generate more renewable projects. How could this happen without our city pledging its balance sheet in support of a 25-year power purchase agreement?

CCA advocates assert that government would deliver clean energy cheaper than utility companies; that a CCA could purchase 100 percent renewable energy while utilities remain partially tied to carbon technologies; and that local control would result in greater locally generated supply, stimulating local job growth.

Some industry and labor leaders have a different view. They believe CCAs would stimulate out-of-state energy production and increase consumer costs. In San Diego, costs could be a significant factor. The California Public Utilities Commission may take 18 months to decide on an exit fee structure that could cost San Diego well over $1 billion if it implements CCA.

It’s also worth noting that local governments, despite best intentions, do not have an exemplary track record when they stray from core competencies.

Our goal here is not to judge the facts, or even the suitability of a San Diego CCA. Our purpose, rather, is to encourage everyone to become aware and participate in the discussion and debate.

Electricity is an essential part of our lives, something we each use every day. Before making any decisions concerning this critical commodity, the possible risks and rewards must be fully debated.

We hope that everyone — especially San Diego’s City Council and mayor — will proceed with caution before they make decisions about becoming an electrical energy supplier.

Waring is a co-founder of CleanTech San Diego and is former deputy chief operating officer of the city of San Diego. Nelson served on the City of San Diego Public Utilities Advisory Commission and is a former chairman of the San Diego Unified Port District.

Power of Choice – Size Matters in Energy Business, by Jim Waring & Bob Nelson, The San Diego Union-Tribune, August 25, 2017.