Two years ago, the Redondo Beach City Council moved to explore joining a joint-powers agreement that would, literally, join the city’s electrical power together with that of neighboring cities. In the process, Redondo Beach would push toward using renewable energy sources.
At the Council’s March 21 meeting, plans to further explore that path carried despite initial confusion over an unusually split vote.
An abstention from voting by outgoing Councilman Steve Sammarco seemingly sunk the City’s exploration into Community Choice Aggregation with the South Bay Clean Power Working Group, much to the delight of conservative opponents to the program.
The goals of CCA programs, according to City staff, are to provide secure energy supplies to customers at competitive prices and sustaining the development of clean, renewable energy. It also allows for the negotiation of long-term power purchases, locking in utility rates at an ideally low cost to consumers.
The South Bay group, explained by South Bay Clean Power acting chair Joe Galliani, had 14 cities involved, including the Beach Cities as well as Westside L.A. cities such as West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Culver City. Representatives from the participating cities would comprise a board of directors.
According to Galliani, CCA organizations across the state, such as in Marin County, have seen rates drop for customers, and that SBCP was working closely with Southern California Edison in the process.
Los Angeles County is also exploring a CCA, Galliani said, but a South Bay group would allow for greater local control, Galliani argued.
Arthur Schaper, president of the Beach Cities Republican Club, argued that this was a “special interest boondoggle.”
“I love the idea of competition, but a CCA isn’t competition; it’s a government subsidy providing artificial alternatives,” Schaper said.
However, Councilwoman Laura Emdee was concerned with the time Redondo’s Public Works department would spend on the project, approximately 10 percent of their time over the next two to three months.
“It’s taken me two years to get staff to focus on the issues we have in North Redondo…what are the downsides to waiting to see what the County CCA will do?”
Public Works Director Ted Semaan agreed that the City could wait and not suffer any consequences.
When time came for a vote and direction, Councilman Christian Horvath, who has been leading the charge for a CCA in Redondo Beach, was joined by Councilman Bill Brand in voting to continue a study. Emdee voted against, while Sammarco quietly abstained.
As Councilwoman Martha Barbee left the meeting early with an illness, the vote initially seemed dead for want of a three-vote quorum.
However, according to Horvath, an assertion by City Manager Joe Hoefgen that the measure had died was found to be incorrect.
Sammarco did not respond to a request for comment.
Redondo Renewable Energy Study Passes despite Split Vote, by David Mendez, Easy Reader News, March 22, 2017.