Five North County cities are studying whether to contract with different energy providers to increase the amount of sustainable energy they use in a program called Community Choice Aggregation.
Encinitas is the most recent city to vote to share the cost of a feasibility study.
Community Choice Aggregation would allow cities to buy energy independently from utilities other than SDG&E, likely speeding up the transition away from fossil fuels and toward energy produced by wind and solar.
What is community choice aggregation?
Right now, San Diego Gas & Electric provides power through its system of lines and wires to every city in San Diego County and southern Orange County. SDG&E buys the electricity from a variety of sources, including natural gas plants, hydroelectric dams and wind turbine farms.
If a city goes with community choice aggregation, power would still go through SDG&E’s grid, but the city would buy the energy, not the utility. That allows cities to have more control over how much of their energy comes from renewable sources and the cost for that electricity.
Solana Beach has already embarked on a contract to explore Community Choice. Del Mar voted on June 5 to contribute to a $100,000 feasibility study, and Encinitas got on board June 28.
Encinitas Mayor Katherine Blakespear said the more cities collaborate, the better.
“It would be great to have leadership in the North County area, so to have Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Del Mar and Solana Beach all doing it together, that would be the win in my mind — to have everybody on board,” she said.
Blakespear said city staff have been working with officials in Del Mar, Carlsbad and Oceanside.
“Trying to figure out where they are in the process — if they have the political will: basically, are there three people on the city council that are interested in moving forward, and are they interested in doing this first pass, this technical study?”
Carlsbad City Council will vote July 11 on whether to help pay for a feasibility study.
Oceanside has not yet scheduled a vote, partly because Mayor Jim Wood is recovering from a stroke, and it is unclear whether there are three votes on the remaining four-member council to pass the measure.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors in February rejected the idea of doing a feasibility study into alternative energy sources for the unincorporated areas.
The City of San Diego is expected to announce the results of its feasibility study on July 13.
SDG&E said 43 percent of its energy currently comes from renewable resources. Some cities considering Community Choice Aggregation are aiming for 100 percent.
More than half a dozen community choice aggregators currently operate in California.
Five North County Cities Consider Community Choice Aggregation, by Alison St John, KPBS, July 3, 2017.