If skeptics of climate change and defenders of San Diego Gas & Electric are abundant in Ocean Beach, it wasn’t apparent at this month’s meeting of the Ocean Beach Planning Board.
Seeing none of either constituency, the OBPB threw its weight behind the creation of a government body designated to buy electricity and compete with SDG&E. It voted unanimously May 3 to write a letter to the City Council supporting the concept known as Community Choice Energy (CCE).
“Currently, SDG&E both buys and distributes power to ratepayers. With CCE, also known as Community Choice Aggregation, the government would also buy electricity, allowing customers to choose between the two vendors. Bills would still come from SDG&E and the utility would still provide the means of distribution,” said Alicia Race of Climate Action Campaign.
Debate among the 11 board members and comments from the two dozen or so audience members was surprisingly scant – surprising, perhaps, until you remind yourself the motion took place in this left-leaning beach community that prides itself for its environmental consciousness.
“CCE is seen as an important step in meeting the requirements of the city’s landmark Climate Action Plan, which among other things, calls for all electricity used in San Diego to come from renewable sources by 2035,” Race said. (Stoves, dryers and other appliances that use natural gas would still be allowed.)
“The Climate Action Campaign is in the midst of an information offensive at planning board meetings to urge the City Council to approve CCE,” Race said. So far, 63 cities and nine counties throughout the state have signed on.
Like the other 40-plus planning boards throughout the city, the OBPB is sanctioned to make nonbinding recommendations to the city on land-use and quality-of-life matters.
“Most energy still comes from dirty fuel sources,” Race said. “This shifts from the for-profit model to a nonprofit model and gives us local control and accountability over our rates.”
CCE could also boost the local economy if managed skillfully, Race suggested.
“Today we see millions of dollars are leaving San Diego to pay for electric generation. We see that with community choice, we start to build up local infrastructure,” she said. “We could take advantage of our beautiful sunshine – 89 percent of our buildings are solar viable – so there’s a potential to create local jobs.”
Race said CCE is strongly supported in the polls. However, the concept has its critics, including SDG&E parent company Sempra Energy and the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, according to reports.
Ocean Beach Planning Board Endorses More Choices for Electricity, by Tony de Garate, SDnews, May 13, 2017.