Our Power, Our Choice

Solana Energy Alliance, the Little CCE that Could

Excerpted from the Coast News, May 10, 2018; by Bianca Kaplanek

With the county’s first community choice aggregation program set to launch in a few weeks, Solana Beach residents should have received their first enrollment notices, which provide information, rates, and an initial opportunity to opt out. As of June 1, Solana Energy Alliance, or SEA, will be the default energy provider for San Diego’s second smallest city. SEA will offer two power options: SEA Choice, the most cost-effective rate, is made up of 50 percent renewable and 75 percent greenhouse-gas-free energy. SEA Green is 100 percent renewable at a slightly higher cost. Under community choice aggregation — considered an effective way to reach state-mandated greenhouse gas emission reductions — customers will receive one bill from San Diego Gas & Electric Co., which will continue to deliver power, maintain the grid, and provide customer and field services.

State law mandates that community choice aggregation be an automatic opt-in program. However, customers can opt out and remain with SDG&E without penalty between now and 60 days after SEA launches. Those who opt out more than 60 days after SEA service starts will be charged a processing fee by SDG&E and will not have the option to return to SEA for one year. SEA will not charge a termination fee. SDG&E will charge customers authorized fees for delivering power to homes or businesses and for providing other services; those components of the electric bill are the same whether customers buy electricity from SEA or SDG&E.

SEA customers will continue to receive a single monthly bill from SDG&E that includes all applicable electric charges, including SEA’s power generation fees. SDG&E will also charge SEA customers a power charge indifference adjustment, referred to as PCIA, and a franchise fee surcharge, both of which are calculated based on the number of kilowatt hours used each month. The PCIA is intended to ensure that customers who remain with SDG&E are not negatively impacted by customers moving to SEA. The PCIA is currently 1 cent to just under 2 cents per kilowatt hour. Even with this additional fee, however, according to SEA's rate comparison, SEA Choice customers will see about a 3 percent reduction in their monthly energy bills. Additionally, solar users will receive a higher credit compensation.

Solana Beach has been working for more than seven years to create community choice aggregation, also called community choice energy, in an effort to have more local control over energy procurement and to offer residents and customers cleaner energy choices at somewhat lower rates. More recently, Del Mar, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside are currently considering the option of forming a larger CCE. Solana Beach Council members said they have not ruled out the possibility of partnering with those or other cities in the future.

Solana Beach residents and businesses can review rates, opt out, or upgrade to SEA Green by visiting www.SolanaEnergyAlliance.org, or calling (858)720-4422. Customers choosing to stay with SDG&E should have their electric bill handy to more easily process the request.