La Mesa Sustainability Commission stymied by CCA plan

The city of La Mesa is moving, fairly quickly, to become one of the first cities in East County San Diego to adopt a Community Choice Aggregate (CCA) plan.

In simple English what that means is that once the CCA plan is implemented, La Mesa citizens will be buying electric power from the city rather than SDG&E as they do now and, hopefully, at a slightly cheaper rate than SDG&E offers.

That’s an oversimplified explanation for the CCA program brought into existence by state legislation to make sure that all California cities and entities reach the goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045.

If La Mesa does adopt that goal, and it looks as though it will, the city will take over the provision of power to all its residents, unless some people decide to formally opt out and retain their relationship with SDG&E. Even for residents who stick with the CCA, SDG&E will still handle billing and maintaining power lines.

There are five possible routes for the eventual adoption of a CCA for La Mesa.

The city could opt to go it alone in what’s called an Enterprise CCA, where the city would set up its own system and operate it, at a setup cost of $4 million. This would give La Mesa the most local control.

A Partner CCA appears to be the front-runner so far. It would involve La Mesa, Santee and Chula Vista in a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) to make decisions about buying and selling power. Startup costs would be $4 million apiece.

A Regional CCA is a strong possibility. That would involve several cities, including the three already mentioned above, in a CCA headed by the city of San Diego. The upside there is that San Diego would pick up all the startup costs for everyone involved. The possible downside is that the two largest cities — San Diego and Chula Vista — might feel they would want more votes on the JPA board, thereby able to run things as San Diego and Chula Vista want.

There are other possibilities, but these three are receiving the most attention right now.

There is something of a rush on the Regional CCA with San Diego. In order to get aboard that train, La Mesa would have to apply no later than October 2019.

This is all more than a little confusing, and it managed to confuse most of the city’s Sustainability Commission, which is supposed to advise the City Council what to do.

On July 16, the commission heard a pretty detailed presentation by the consulting company who made up the research report for them.

After batting it around for an hour or so, the commission admitted it was stymied.

“I don’t know about you all, but I’m just not clear enough on this to make specific recommendations to the council,” said Sustainability Commission Chairperson Jim Stone.

The commission agreed and sent it on to the council with only the recommendation that staff continue working on it.

The City Council will hear an update on the Draft Community Choice Aggregation Feasibility Study at its Aug. 13 meeting. To read more about the CCA program, visit bit.ly/2Y0mh7z.

— Doug Curlee is a local freelance writer who has been covering the news in the San Diego area for decades, both in print and on television. Reach him at dougcurlee@cox.net.

 

Sustainability Commission stymied by CCA plan, By Doug Curlee, La Mesa Courier, July 26, 2019.

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