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The OC Power Authority Must Succeed

Community Choice Energy (CCE) is any city’s fastest path to 100% clean electricity. It provides a proven, non-profit, community-led alternative to the investor-owned utilities that have enjoyed a monopoly status in Orange County for a century. It is also the only path where our money is reinvested back into our neighborhoods instead of lining the pockets of shareholders and utility executives.

Today, CCE programs serve more than 11 million California customers, providing countless benefits to those communities, including ten times more renewable electricity than investor-owned utilities. According to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the state will not meet its clean energy goals without CCE.

Above: a recent overview of clean energy projects sparked by California's CCE programs

Investor-owned utilities (IOUs) have been given monopoly status in Orange County for over a century with the understanding that they would provide reliable, affordable energy to everyone, but they have not kept their end of the bargain. SDG&E has increased rates for OC families by 58% since 2016 and plans to increase them another 50% by 2030. SCE has raised rates 45% since 2016 and plans to increase them another 45% by 2030, according to plans shared with the CPUC by both IOUs.

Above: "Panel One: Can We Afford the Future?" from California Public Utilities Public Advocates Office

With CCEs, the money leftover after paying for electricity costs must go back into the community for energy programs that benefit the community. This enables big investments in necessary technologies such as EV incentives for low-income families, rebates on batteries for local clean power 24/7, induction cooktops, e-bikes, microgrids, heat pumps, and more. These tools will keep OC safe and resilient to the extreme heat, wildfires, and droughts already impacting us and becoming increasingly common.

CCE is the only pathway for creating electricity competition in California. A rate comparison between Marin Clean Energy, California’s oldest CCE, and PG&E shows considerable savings for CCE customers. As CCEs mature, they can provide rate relief and customer programs that meet critical community needs.

As OC’s first and only CCE, the OC Power Authority must succeed, and that is why Climate Action Campaign has consistently advocated for transparency and best practice-based decision-making by OCPA. CCEs are community-driven enterprises that rise and fall based on community trust and vision. Community members should speak up for the changes they want at OCPA board meetings and get involved to help steer it to success.

We know what is possible with a healthy, thriving CCE. That is what Orange County deserves and what we will continue to work toward.

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