Judging by recent city council votes in places like La Mesa, Chula Vista, Carlsbad and Encinitas, the debate over community energy programs has become less about whether cities in the San Diego area will adopt the model but what form it will take in their respective jurisdictions.
The programs, known as community choice aggregation, started nine years ago in the Bay Area. There are now 19 in the state, committed to purchasing energy contracts from renewable sources while offering rates that are roughly equal to or lower than investor-owned utilities like San Diego Gas & Electric.
“It’s an exciting moment in history,” said Erik Caldwell, deputy chief operating officer for the city of San Diego. “I think people will look back at what the city of San Diego and our regional partners are doing doing today and say that this was the beginning of a transformation in how energy was procured, not only in California but across the nation.”
Under a traditional power model, an investor-owned utility like SDG&E handles everything — purchasing the sources of electricity (natural gas, solar, wind, etc.), maintaining the transmission and distribution lines (poles, wires, etc.) and handling the billing and other customer services.
Community energy: More and more cities want in on the power-purchase game, by Rob Nikolewski, The San Diego Union Tribune, August 30, 2019.