October 11 – KPBS – Alison St John reports – The Solana Beach City Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday night on whether to move into the next phase of preparing for Community Choice Energy. The city of 13,000 residents is at the forefront of a growing trend in San Diego County to take more local control of where residents get their energy.
The city has been considering Community Choice Energy, or CCE, since 2011, and is beyond the stage of doing feasibility studies; technical studies of Community Choice and peer reviews have come out positive. They conclude that providing more sustainable energy at potentially lower rates is possible for the city.
Now the question is, will the council decide to go ahead with the next phase, which includes community engagement, exploring contracts and creating rate structures. This is the point at which the city would begin to invest money, not just staff time, in implementing the plan.
City Manager Greg Wade said if the council moves forward, there’s a possibility Solana Beach could be launching the program next year.
A staff report shows 13 Community Choice programs already operate in California, but Wade said the Solana Beach City Council needs to know if the local community is behind the idea.
“We’d be the first, potentially, in the SDG&E area,” he said. “It’s important to have all that information before they decide whether to move forward.”
Community Choice programs rely on only a limited percentage of residents opting out of the program to be economically feasible.
Wade said about 120 people responded to a community outreach poll and 88 percent of them said they were interested in having a CCE program in Solana Beach.
Interestingly, when asked which was most important to them: lower rates or increased renewable energy, more people — over 90 percent — chose increased renewable energy.
Wade said the city recently passed its Climate Action Plan, and adopting Community Choice Energy is essential to meet the plan’s goals.
The City of San Diego is also considering Community Choice Energy. Several North County cities are also considering the option, but have yet to commit.