HANFORD — The Hanford City Council met Nov. 20 and held a public hearing on a proposed ordinance to establish a Hanford Community Choice Aggregation implementation plan and statement of intent.
In a 4-1 decision, with Councilwoman Diane Sharp being the only “no” vote, Council decided to start the process of establishing a program plan and statement of intent.
During the public hearing, City Manager Darrel Pyle said the concept of Community Choice Aggregation was signed into law in 2002 and grants California Cities the right to combine the electricity load of its residents and businesses into a community-wide electricity aggregation program.
Right now, Pyle said most of Hanford is served by Southern California Edison, but the Industrial Park is served by Pacific Gas & Electric.
He said under a Community Choice Aggregation program, the incumbent utility — Southern California Edison or PG&E — continues to be responsible for electricity delivery and transmission, owning and maintaining the power and transmission infrastructure, reading the meter, and billing and collecting from customers.
The staff report on the issue said the only change under the program is that power consumed by customers is purchased by the Community Choice Aggregation, with the revenues collected staying in the city to benefit the citizens and businesses.
Pyle said a technical study that was conducted said Hanford customers would receive and increased opportunity to choose the type of electricity they prefer to come into their home, like renewable energy or a lower-cost option.
In addition to the financial benefits, he said the Community Choice Aggregation structure results in the Hanford City Council having full control of rate setting, budget approval, policy setting and program direction.
Officials said any Hanford customers who wish to stay with the incumbent utility provider have the ability to opt out of the Community Choice Aggregation.
“What we’re offering here is competition,” Vice Mayor Sue Sorensen said.
An additional fund would be established in the city’s budget and operate like the water or sewer fund, with reserves that would not affect the general fund, Pyle said.
Sharp said she felt like the city has enough on its plate and she didn’t feel comfortable with the level of risk going into this new business, but Council members like Sorensen and Mayor David Ayers said they were interested in the possibilities available in providing different options to residents and would at least like to begin moving forward at this point.
A motion made by Sorensen to begin the process of establishing an implementation plan and statement of intent was passed with support from Ayers and Council members Martin Devine and Justin Mendes.
Due to the many steps involved, if the council continues to pursue the option — which they are not obligated to do — anticipated implementation is not expected until May 2020 or later.
Town hall meeting
A town hall meeting that was previously scheduled to take place tonight, Nov. 27, to discuss a proposed homeless service center in downtown Hanford has been canceled.
Ayers said out of respect for the three new council members that were recently elected, he requested the meeting be postponed until the three new members are situated on the dais. He said after that point, the new council can decide when the meeting is to be held.
“They’re going to be the future decision makers,” Ayers said.
There was a general consensus from the rest of council to go ahead and postpone the town hall meeting.
“As we carry forward, I think it’s going to be important that we carry forward with that team that will be making those decisions for the next two years,” Sorensen said.
In the meantime, escrow has not been opened on the proposed building and Pyle assured Council that nothing will be happen until after a town hall meeting is conducted.
Council begins to explore Community Choice Aggregation, by Julissa Zavala, Hanford Sentinel, November 27, 2018.