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Fullerton joins Irvine to Create Orange County Energy Authority

The Fullerton City Council voted to move forward with Community Choice Energy (CCE) on Monday, November 2, voting 4-1 (Whitaker “No”) to pass the first reading of the City ordinance to join the city of Irvine and create a new nonprofit Joint Powers Authority (JPA), tentatively named the Orange County Energy Authority, authorizing the Fullerton City Manager to negotiate Fullerton’s terms for their draft Joint Powers Authority agreement.

Fullerton joins a growing group of seven cities in Orange County exploring CCE as a way to help stabilize rates and accelerate clean energy to residents, including Irvine, Costa Mesa, and Huntington Beach. The agency is also expected to generate excess revenue that will be reinvested into the communities for programs such as rooftop solar, electric charging stations, electric heat pumps, and more.

Climate & Energy Advocate with the nonprofit Climate Action Campaign José Trinidad Castañeda III reacted to the vote. “Fullerton, Irvine, and Orange County are at the cusp of historic change in the way we address the climate crisis. Thanks to years of efforts from local advocates, we have a real chance at providing families with cleaner energy and economic relief. I have a renewed sense of hope that other cities will join our movement to build a better world through energy democracy and community choice.”

Sixty-two Fullerton residents submitted public electronic comments in favor, and several members of the public, including climate activists and Latina mothers from the Woodcrest Association, spoke in favor of joining the JPA.

Barry Ross, representing St. Jude Medical Center, requested the Council’s support for CCE as he stated, “In this interconnected world, we all need to do our part to protect the health of the planet. The U.S. healthcare system, in particular, has a major role to play. Collectively, healthcare in this country generates 10% of all greenhouse gases produced in the United States. That’s why our health system, Providence St. Joseph’s Health, is committed to operating more sustainably.”

Alma Chavez, a community leader from the Woodcrest Neighborhood Association, said, “Al unirse a la JPA, una Autoridad de Energía del Condado de Orange pone a las familias de Fullerton a cargo de nuestro futuro energético a través de la toma de decisiones locales sobre tarifas, programas y políticas.” (Translated into English, “By joining the JPA, an Orange County Energy Authority puts Fullerton families in charge of our energy future through local decision-making on rates, programs, and policies.”)

After the close of public comment, a majority of the Council members voted to move the item with Councilman Ahmad Zahra and seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Jan Flory. Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald said, “I’m on board.

The next key vote is November 17, when the city of Costa Mesa will vote on whether to adopt the first reading of their CCE ordinance and officially join the Orange County Energy Authority.

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