Formation plans for a local community choice energy (CCE) program were paused last summer to enable Pacific Energy Advisors (PEA) to update the previously prepared CCE financial feasibility model in order to address several key items that had the potential to adversely affect the viability of a local CCE program. The update explored the impacts of the following:
• Increased Power Cost Indifference Adjustment (PCIA) or “exit fee”
• No North County jurisdiction participation
• Increased competition due to Direct Access program expansion
• Accelerated State renewable and GHG-free electricity goals
PEA has completed the updated study and concluded that a CCE program serving the unincorporated parts of the county and the Cities of Carpinteria, Goleta, and Santa Barbara remains viable under revised conditions and could offer cleaner electricity than what is provided by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) at competitive rates. However, if the CCE program sets the rates equal to PG&E’s and SCE’s rates, the CCE program would accumulate financial reserves below industry standards for all but the last study year (2031). These comparatively smaller reserves would provide less financial security against unexpected cost shocks and could delay local program development. These financial challenges could be partially mitigated by (1) charging rates higher than PG&E and SCE and/or (2) phasing in electricity service to residential customers first before serving lower-margin non-residential customers.
The updated study can be found here. The study results will be discussed and potentially acted on at the following public meetings:
• Wednesday, July 3 – Santa Barbara City Council CCE Committee meeting
• Monday, July 8 – Carpinteria City Council meeting
– City of Goleta Energy/Green Issues Committee meeting
• Tuesday, July 16 – County of Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors meeting
– Goleta City Council meeting
Staff is also investigating other potential CCE options including joining existing CCE programs such as Monterey Bay Community Power and Clean Power Alliance. The City of Santa Barbara has also contracted with PEA to study options for a City of Santa Barbara only CCE program.
Updated Santa Barbara County CCE Study, from Central Coast Power Newsletter, June 25, 2019.