In a decisive 12-3 vote in a special meeting of the Policy Board of Directors on June 10, Monterey Bay Community Power, soon to be re-dubbed Central Coast Community Energy, reversed its March 4 vote to accept an allocation of PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power. This continues a trend where most CCAs have now rejected the allocation, including MCE, SCP, CPSF, PCE, RCEA, VCE, and EBCE. Pioneer Community Energy in Placer County, SJCE, and SVCE have accepted the allocation.
If the decision had not been reversed, the Power Content Label for MBCP showing MBCP’s power mix for 2020 would show about 20% as having been sourced from Diablo. Once customers and others become aware of this, there is a risk that the CCA “brand” will be tarnished and customers could begin to opt out. Jill ZamEk of San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace stated that they are “very pleased that the Policy Board of Monterey Bay Community Power rescinded its decision to accept nuclear into their power mix for 2020. We appreciate their willingness to hold a special meeting and take input from community members. We look forward to working together to solve the problems facing CCAs.”
Board Chair Bruce McPherson facilitated the difficult and at times confusing discussion, but in the end, Governing Board member Heidi Harmon, Mayor of the City of San Luis Obispo, made the motion to reject the nuclear allocation, and ultimately, the 12-3 vote resulted.
Opponents of the allocation presented a long list of reasons why the vote should be reconsidered. Process issues and less than adequate public participation, lack of complete information in March, and dramatic changes to the economics due to the Covid situation since March. The fundamental problems associated with nuclear power were also presented at the beginning by nuclear expert Daniel Hirsch.
The action perhaps exemplifies what CCAs are all about: the ability of the community to weigh in on energy decision-making, advancing what we call energy democracy. It is one of the main reasons that I have been a proponent of community Choice for 15 years. The promise of Community Choice is that it can serve as a key leader and innovator in the evolution to a decentralized, democratized, decarbonized, safe, clean, and affordable energy system where community benefits are emphasized over corporate profit. CCAs, including MBCP, generally promote themselves as breaking away from the hazardous and obsolete 20th century energy sources such as coal and nuclear. Decisions like the one that MBCP made on June 10 constitute a step ion the right direction.