Where does Oceanside stand on Community Choice Energy?

After a draft technical feasibility study released in February revealed Community Choice Energy is financially possible and could benefit four North County cities, all but Oceanside have taken the next steps to consider an alternative power provider as an option.

That may change soon as staff prepares to recommend that City Council give staff the green light to continue exploring CCE as an option for Oceanside.

The four cities originally partnered to determine if a CCE, also referred to as CCA (Community Choice Aggregation), was a viable option for them together and as individual cities. The study, conducted by EES Consulting, Inc., found a CCE is feasible in each individual city except Del Mar due to the its small population.

The study’s total cost was $104,515.20, of which $41,689.60 was paid by Oceanside.

Russ Cunningham, principal planner in Oceanside’s Planning Division, said Oceanside has had a more “hesitant stance” on CCE compared to the other three cities.

In Del Mar, City Council has directed staff to continue participating in the CCE discussion. Both Carlsbad and Encinitas city councils have approved for their staffs to explore governance options, and Carlsbad has tasked its staff with creating a statement of the city’s intent to pursue CCE.

Meanwhile in Oceanside, City Council is only now catching up to speed on CCE, according to Cunningham.

“Up to this point Oceanside has taken a somewhat more weary, more cautious, maybe less eager approach to this issue and there are good reasons for this,” Cunningham said during a March 21 community meeting on CCE in Carlsbad.

He pointed out “two principal factors” for Oceanside’s cautious approach, the first being that Oceanside’s in-house municipal water utility is an enterprise operation funded through program revenues and not through taxpayer revenues.

“CCAs are enterprise operations that rely on rate payers, not tax payers, to stay solvent,” Cunningham said. “This is a very important distinction that we understand very well in Oceanside.”

This understanding, he continued, has led staff to “press for more detail on how a CCA may operate, how it would stay in the black in the face of changes in the energy market and how it would ensure competitive and stable rates.”

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