San Diego Community Power, our region’s new Community Choice Energy program, is launching today! We sat down with Mat Vasilakis—our Co-Director of Policy—for a conversation about what residents can expect. Keep reading to learn more.
Q: Can you give us a bit of an overview on what Community Choice Energy is and how it’s different from just getting your energy from SDG&E?
A: Yeah! So San Diego Community Power, or SDCP, is San Diego’s new Community Choice Energy (CCE) program. CCE is a tried and true way for cities to provide local control and advance the clean energy transition. In California, there are now 23 CCE programs reliably serving more than 11 million customers in more than 180 cities and counties.
Basically, what this means is that the cities that are part of SDCP—San Diego, La Mesa, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, and Encinitas—joined together to leverage their economies of scale to contract cleaner energy for residents at competitive rates.
This gives residents real choice in who provides their energy, a breath of fresh air from SDG&E’s monopoly over these cities. SDCP sources electricity and then SDG&E delivers that electricity to homes and businesses through their lines and sends you a single consolidated bill.
Q: Let me ask the question on everyone’s mind... what do the rates look like for SDCP and what sources will their electricity come from?
A: Great question! So SDCP is offering two packages: PowerOn and Power100.
The PowerOn package will offer 50% renewable energy and 5% greenhouse gas free energy, for a total of 55% carbon-free electricity. The PowerOn package will be 3% cheaper for cleaner energy than what SDG&E offers: 31.3% renewable energy and 7.8% unbundled RECs.
The Power100 package will allow businesses and families to opt into 100% renewable energy at the same rate as SDG&E’s default package.
Q: That’s super exciting to see them offer cleaner energy at cheaper rates and 100% clean energy at the same rate! It sounds like there’s no tradeoffs for customers?
A: Nope! It’s a win-win for consumer savings and our climate and clean energy future. One of the best parts is that, instead of the money from your bills going to shareholders and executive bonuses, SDCP’s net revenue is going to be reinvested locally into programs that benefit our communities.
Q: Can you tell us more about how SDCP will reinvest its revenue to offer programs to the community?
A: Definitely—so one of the coolest things about the CCE movement is seeing the innovative programs that they’ve created to serve the needs of their communities.
Like I mentioned before, the net revenue from CCE programs (after buying power and covering their administrative expenses) can be used to help stabilize electricity prices, provide incentives for solar installations, support energy efficiency programs, and develop more local renewable energy sources.
SDCP is still in its launch phase, so we’re a few years out from building some of the shovel-ready projects that San Diego needs to accelerate its clean energy revolution. As a member of SDCP’s Community Advisory Council, I’ve been attending Board meetings and they have big ideas about the future of this program. SDCP Board and staff are serious about building these local clean energy projects and creating good, union jobs along the way.
Q: What’s the plan to launch SDCP? I hear they are rolling things out in phases.
A: They are being very deliberate about launching this program in a way that creates no disruptions to service or other issues for customers, so they are doing a phased roll-out. Beginning today, March 1st, they are serving municipal customers. Commercial accounts will come online in June and residential service will begin next year.
Q: How can businesses and families opt into the program?
Customers will be automatically enrolled in SDCP when they reach their respective phase of the roll-out—municipal, commercial, then residential. They will receive notice and have a period of time to opt-out and remain with SDG&E as their electricity provider, if they choose.
One quick note, is that I’ve had many friends who live in multi-family housing ask what the plan is for offering service to them. If you live in multi-family housing, your whole building will be opted into SDCP during the residential phase with the option to opt-out.
Q: What should residents of other cities know about how to bring SDCP to their communities?
A: SDCP wants to grow! If you are interested in bringing SDCP to your hometown 1) make sure your city is in SDG&E service territory and 2) send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s strategize.
Q: Anything else you want to share with community members about San Diego Community Power?
A: This program is going to be game changing in helping make clean energy more affordable and accessible, helping our climate and wallets. Be excited!
Are you interested in learning more about San Diego Community Power? Check out their website here.