The board began considering developing or joining a Community Choice Energy program back in 2015, when the staff was directed to gauge regional support for joining a program.
Community Choice Energy allows members to decide where and how their electricity is generated, including building their own generating facilities. Power is transmitted through the lines of utilities like Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and Southern California Edison, which would maintain the lines and handle billing.
The goals for a CCE program include providing more local control over where power comes from, potentially increasing the amount from renewable sources and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
It could also make communities more resilient through local power generation projects, generate revenue for sustainability programs, lower energy costs for consumers and stimulate economic development.
A 2017 feasibility study showed creating or joining a regional CCE was not viable, but a 2018 study found it would be viable for the county only, so the board directed the staff to proceed with a joint powers agreement.
However, the staff discovered that while South County cities remained interested in the idea, North County cities were not. At the same time, changes in policy and market conditions also threatened the viability of a CCE.
The updated feasibility study to be delivered to the board Tuesday shows developing a CCE program is still viable but less financially beneficial, while joining such a program might be better financially but would have trade-offs.
Creating a county CCE
• The cost for creating a program for residential customers only would be $2.5 million and for all customers would be $9 million, but all the county’s investment to date could be recovered.
• Consumers would pay the same electricity rates under a program for residential customers only, but rates would rise 3 percent under a program for all customers
• Ten full-time jobs would be created by a program for residential customers only, with 17 created by a program for all customers.
• For PG&E customers, 50 percent of electricity would be from renewable sources and 100 percent would be greenhouse gas-free; for Edison Co. customers, 50 percent would be from renewable sources but only 75 percent would be greenhouse gas-free.
Joining an existing CCE
• Joining the existing Monterey Bay Community Power CCE program would cost $5,000 to $7,000, but the county’s investment to date would be lost.
• Consumer electric rates would drop 2 percent for Edison Co. customers and 8 percent for PG&E customers.
• Minimal jobs would be created, although a North County or San Luis Obispo County office might be opened if all cities joined.
• For both PG&E and Edison Co. customers, 34 percent of electricity would come from renewable sources but 100 percent would be greenhouse gas-free.
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