How would you like local control of where your electricity comes from?
How would you like to pay cheaper rates than you’re paying to Southern California Edison?
How would you like to have much more than just 20% of your electricity produced by clean green renewable power generation?
How would you like to be able to put as much solar power on your property as you want to – and how would you like to be paid a competitive rate for the extra power you produce?
And how would you like the part of your electric bill that now goes into corporate monopoly profits instead reinvested in your own community for better energy efficiency, incentives for solar and electric cars, and smart grid improvements in your town?
If you’d like all these things as much as we do, then you, my friend are in favor of Community Choice Power – otherwise known by its wonky initials CCA, for Community Choice Aggregation. And if you want Community Choice Power you can now have it.
Here in South Bay of Los Angeles for example we, the people, may decide that our Community would be defined by the 15 cities that comprise the South Bay Council of Governments. We might also want to include our L.A. County Coastal neighbors Santa Monica, Malibu and Long Beach. It’s all our choice and the choice of people in those communities.
Each community that wants to be part of the same Community Choice Power program needs only a city council vote to approve participating.
It’s a long process that begins at the grassroots level to introduce the topic and engage the public and local city governments in the process.
The good news is that’s already begun in Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance. The same steps are about to be taken in Lawndale, Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, El Segundo and the cities of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
All of these communities who are paying too much for electricity.
Every one of them tired of the crappy, unreliable electric service we get from our monopoly utility – the one no city ever opted into.
Each and every one of them fed up with the lack of local control and the lack of respect and customer service we get from Southern California Edison
And all of them with climate action plans that call for their city to add more renewable energy and cut our greenhouse gas emissions.
That is why we are destined to form a nonprofit South Bay Community Power program and why WE will choose where our electricity is generated. WE will choose how much of it comes from renewable sources. WE will choose what to charge customers and where the income goes. And WE will do what Southern California Edison has never done – encourage and rapidly accelerate distributed power generation on rooftops and properties in our own communities via solar power.
It is a obvious as the ocean is wet that SCE does not want you or me or our city buildings to own our own clean power generating stations on our homes. At a recent meeting with SCE representatives they said their company was officially “neutral” on rooftop solar – but they were lying. They are as neutral as Fox News is.
SCE wants to own the solar panels on any roof. SCE wants you to pay their inflated retail rates for any solar power your roof generates. And they most certainly don’t want there to ever be a time when your solar panels have paid for themselves and your electricity is free. God forbid the extra green energy you generate and feed back to the grid actually makes YOU some money.
But the South Bay Community Power program wants every clean, green, solar-powered watt our community members can generate. We want to make it easier and faster for you to get your panels installed and they want to pay you a fair price to generate that clean, non-polluting energy for the community. Your South Bay Community Power program also wants you to charge your electric car from that sunpower so you can be riding on sunshine when you drive through our community.
Community Power Programs Are Already Operating In Marin & Sonoma Counties
Marin Clean Energy’s rates are lower than their communities’ monopoly utility PG&E and Marin is on track to save $5.9 million dollars for their customers – including city governments in 2014.
29% of Marin Clean Energy’s energy portfolio mix comes from renewable sources. Only 19% of PG&E’s does. Marin Clean Energy’s greenhouse gas emissions rate is 19% lower than Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) helping their customers cut pollution and CO2. Marin’s program like Sonoma’s Community Choice Power program offers customers the option of getting 100% of their electricity from clean, renewable sources.
Besides the existing Marin and Sonoma Community Choice power programs other communities are headed down the road towards launching their own CCA programs. They include CleanPowerSF; Friends of San Diego Clean Energy; Lancaster Power Authority; Monterey Bay Community Power; representing 21 communities in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties; and San Luis Obispo Clean Energy.
Did We Mention The Jobs, Jobs Jobs?
Community Choice Power programs also generate jobs – lots of jobs. Good, clean energy jobs with a real future, right here in our communities.
The UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation reported that putting solar power on just 5% of the viable roofs in Los Angeles County would generate 29,000 new local jobs. The Community Choice Power program itself will provide good local jobs as well.
Jobs with fossil fuel companies and jobs generating dirty energy are dead end careers that are destined to end just as the jobs in the DDT industry, the asbestos industry, and other harmful, toxic operations that we once valued and then later learned were harming both the workers and our communities. It’s time to offer retraining and better green energy jobs to the dirty energy workers who suffer the same health, safety and environmental consequences the rest of us do from product of their labor.
Public Power Benefits Without the Infrastructure Price Tag
Non-profit municipal utility districts, what we call MUDs here in California, provide highly reliable electricity supply at rates averaging 15 to 20 percent below the rates of traditional investor-owned utilities. Like MUDs, Community Choice Power programs offer great efficiencies of cost, great flexibility, and hyper-local control. But unlike MUDs, they don’t face the capital-intensive and open-ended challenge of valuing, purchasing, and maintaining expensive utility infrastructure. Community Choice Power offers a third approach that exists between the investor-owned monopoly utility and a municipal (or member coop) utility.
Community Choice Power reaps the benefits of controlling power supply and generation without the financial drag of purchasing and maintaining sometimes out-of-date utility infrastructure. In this way, it is a right option for municipalities who don’t want the financial and operational burdens of owning their own utility.
What Happens to Our Friends At SCE?
In California SCE like PG&E and SDG&E hold monopoly positions, so they have been unsupportive and unfriendly to Community Choice Power programs and have gone out of their way to spend millions of dollars in their attempts to kill them. Even so, the utilities are “made whole” on any departing load created by a new CCA through a mechanism called cost recovery surcharges (or exit fees).
It’s as simple as this for the South Bay when we launch our Community Choice Power program – SCE will retain ownership and management of the transmission and distribution infrastructure, and all power delivery. That means line repair, billing, and customer service functions would remain with SCE along with all the jobs that go along with those.
How Do We Pay for It?
Because Community Choice Power programs are revenue-based—not government financed—Community Choice programs require no public subsidy to fund or operate, nor do they require a new revenue stream. The revenues that support energy aggregation already exist. That is, the electricity rates that consumers pay to a retail electric supplier or an investor-owned utility are redirected to support the group purchase of electricity through the Community Choice Power program. This is a big reason people on both sides of the political aisle agree on the economic benefits of Community Choice Power programs for California.
What Do We Do Next?
Send an email to your City Council right now and tell them you want your city to explore a Community Choice Power program for your citizens. Then let us know at South Bay 350 Climate Action Group if you want to be part of the movement to bring Community Choice Power to the South Bay. We’ll be holding a Town Hall in late July and you’ll be the first to be invited and involved.