Pushing the future: Two SLO County cities join a clean energy program

Our region has a tremendous opportunity to develop and benefit from a clean local energy economy. In support of this, we are thrilled to announce that community choice energy is coming to Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo.

Starting in January of 2020, if you are a resident of or operate a business in either city, you can be a part of a locally controlled public agency that re-invests heavily in our communities. The agency, named Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP), will provide carbon-free electricity with a periodic rebate of 3.7 percent on the generation component of your electricity bill, and will allow you to access innovative energy programs.

Monterey Bay Community Power started from humble and grassroots beginnings in 2013 and officially formed after four years, thousands of hours, and hundreds of community events. Electricity customers in cities and unincorporated areas throughout Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey counties began receiving service in 2018 and received rebates close to $5 million through MBCP’s innovative rebate model.

In 2019, MBCP is investing $1.2 million in electric vehicle incentives and income-qualifying solar installations and is on track to invest even more in 2020. As a public agency, customers will have a direct say at public meetings and through their elected leaders to decide if we spend that additional revenue on bigger rebates, electric vehicle subsidies, or something else entirely.

Over the past few years, the cities of Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo have spent significant time assessing community choice energy options. Between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo, our city councils considered the topic at more than 10 public meetings. After extensive discussion, in December of 2018 we decided to partner with MBCP. Since a community choice energy program is an innovative concept, we would like to share some facts about MBCP:

• MBCP estimates that cost savings through the standard rebate for Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo customers in 2020 will be between $700,000 and $900,000.

• MBCP has contracted for the largest solar-plus-battery-storage energy system in California as well as two other renewable energy projects for wind and solar with battery storage, which will meet 20 percent of its annual demand.

• MBCP is debt free and has more than $50 million in reserves.

• Discount programs are available for low-income households.

• Solar customers receive the same net energy metering program as the existing utility, except higher net surplus compensation rates and additional cost savings through MBCP’s standard rebate.

• MBCP’s power supply is carbon-free from eligible renewable resources, as well as through large hydro-electric resources that meet the California Energy Commission’s and California Public Utilities Commission’s standards for procurement and resource adequacy.

• All eligible PG&E customers are enrolled in MBCP, and each customer will have the choice to opt out and stay with PG&E. Additionally, customers will have the option to opt up to MBprime, which supports 100 percent renewable energy.

The benefits of community choice energy are significant. We are proud to be able to participate in how we procure energy and re-invest in our communities. We are optimistic about a bright future of clean and affordable electricity, innovative energy programs, and a collaborative Central Coast community choice energy program. Δ

Heidi Harmon is the mayor of San Luis Obispo, and John Headding is the mayor of Morro Bay. Send comments through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com, or send a letter to the editor for publication by emailing it to letters@newtimesslo.com.

 

Pushing the future: Two SLO County cities join a clean energy program, by Heidi Harmon and John Headding, New Times SLO, April 11, 2019.

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