Located in northern San Joaquin Valley, Davis has grown to be a vibrant city rooted in its farming history. With a population of just over 65,000, Davis has enacted environmentally sound policies to preserve its agricultural character and maintains 485 acres of parks and greenbelts. Now Davis has taken the innovative step of partnering with Yolo County to create the Valley Clean Energy Alliance (VCEA). VCEA is a Community Choice Energy (CCE) joint powers authority that plans to offer lower-cost, greener electricity to Davis and Yolo County residents and businesses.
The Davis City Council and Yolo County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to form VCEA. The decision was the result of a carefully conducted study that analyzed financial and technical feasibility. The study, which was released in March of 2016, concluded that “[because of] low wholesale energy prices, declining renewable energy costs and lower overhead, [VCEA] could deliver cost-competitive, cleaner electricity while providing the opportunity to advance local energy efficiency and climate protection goals.”
In a November 8 press release, Davis Mayor Robb Davis echoed his enthusiasm for CCE programs and VCEA. “At this point, there is probably no other single action we, as a city, can take that will have as much impact on our collective greenhouse gas emissions,” said Davis Mayor Robb Davis. “Community Choice Energy programs have shown the ability to deliver consumer choice and greener electricity with competitive pricing. Importantly, CCE programs allow for local control of electricity purchases and, thus, local accountability at a low risk. We are in a period of rapidly changing electricity generation options and a CCE enables us to proactively be part of that change – creating a more resilient supply of green energy to consumers.”
While the city of Davis chose to partner with Yolo County in forming a joint powers authority, cities are free to form single-jurisdiction CCE programs. For example, the city of Lancaster in southern California took control of their energy supply by creating Lancaster Choice Energy, which serves the city’s residents and businesses. The versatility of CCE programs is an added benefit to local control, cleaner, and often lower-cost electricity. At over four times the size of Davis in terms of population, Stockton has the critical mass needed to launch its own program if it so chooses.
One of the most compelling aspects of Community Choice is that it redirects an existing revenue stream in the millions of dollars for electricity generation that currently leaves the local economy, into local control. A recently published independent economic analysis focusing on San Jose as a case study found that local economic benefit is directly correlated to renewable energy investment under Community Choice Energy. A similar economic study is now underway for the Central Valley, examining how CCE initiatives can result in tangible economic benefits.
Cities like Davis and Lancaster, which are blazing a trail and have already adopted CCE program, respectively, offer models that cities such as Stockton can look to when evaluating CCE. With a new mayor and city council, perhaps now is a good time to take a look at Community Choice Energy for Stockton.