North County Report: Several Cities Are Exploring Energy Choice

Whether it’s for the environment or cost savings, five North County cities are looking buy their power from an entity that is not SDG&E.

Community choice aggregation is the system that allows cities to choose where they get their electricity from. SDG&E is the local generator and provider, and it decides how electricity gets generated, whether that’s through burning fossil fuels or from alternate forms of energy.

Under community choice aggregation, cities would get to choose what generates their power.

Sometimes that’s done to get a handle on costs for residents. More recently, cities have chosen to act for environmental reasons, and put their money toward sustainable energy.

Del Mar and Encinitas recently voted to join Solana Beach to share the costs of a feasibility study, which includes a plan for how to roll out community choice.

If those smaller cities establish a nonprofit CCA, operated by private companies, they’d be able to choose who provides the CCA with electricity. The more cities (and customers), the more the cost of operating the CCA would be shared ‒ though residents can still opt to buy their energy from SDG&E.

And there are potentially a couple of “big gets” for the CCA on the horizon. KPBS reports that Carlsbad will consider paying for the feasibility study for its 45,000 homes. There are also rumblings for including the 65,000 households in Oceanside to a CCA.

But efforts to ditch SDG&E as their energy producer may be tough for cities.

Ry Rivard writes this week that SDG&E has successfully fought off energy choice efforts across the county for decades, including an effort to create a new utility for a growing San Marcos in 2000. SDG&E lobbyists also helped kill community choice aggregation in unincorporated parts of the county earlier this year.

Community choice is a different beast than what San Marcos was exploring, but lobbyists from SDG&E’s parent company, Sempra Energy, met with Solana Beach leaders ahead of their vote.

A veteran of the fight against San Marcos’ plan urged Solana Beach to delay a decision, to “join a broader and regional dialogue,” but Rivard writes that’s a familiar play from the industry handbook ‒ delay and hope the market is in a different place when the dust settles.

North County Report: Several Cities Are Exploring Energy Choice, by Ruarri Serpa, The Voice of San Diego, July 5, 2017.





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