Our Power, Our Choice

Two Perspectives, Two Different Decisions

We have been working for four years to bring Community Choice Energy to our region. And now, we have, not one, but TWO agencies in formation to bring CCE here by 2021, the soonest possible date. Encinitas has opted to join the regional CCA that the City of San Diego is leading, while Carlsbad and Del Mar are hewing more closely to the original plan in the north coastal technical study. Mayor Catherine Blakespear of Encinitas and Council Member Cori Schumacher of Carlsbad have emerged as the principal spokespersons for the two approaches. Here are excerpts from their recent newsletters setting out the reasons for their choices.

First, from Cori Schumacher:

Carlsbad's Community Choice Energy ad-hoc committee of the Council, composed of Mayor Hall and myself, through a unanimous vote by the Council, has been working hard along with city staff on a Partner Joint Powers Authority (JPA) that presents a complimentary option to the San Diego Regional JPA crafted by the City of San Diego.

… Carlsbad’s efforts underline how keenly interested we are in crafting governance models that are nimble, flexible, and responsive to today's rapidly shifting social and environmental concerns. Philosophically, this translates into thinking from the locations of our differences and tensions (rather than our similarities) and valuing our multiplicities. A subtle, but important shift. There is a rich, emerging political-philosophical foundation from which this is being drawn and at its core is how we are able to tackle existential risks to our survival. We are in this together, but "we" are not a homogeneous unity. This work represents a double commitment to processes of change, on the one hand, and on the other, to a strong sense of community: of our being in this together.

I'm happy to sit down with anyone who is interested in delving further into how Carlsbad's Partner JPA governance structure offering in the CCA space provides an alternative and complimentary mode through which to grapple with expedited climate change solutions in highly partisan times.

This isn't simply a conceptual exercise. The nuts and bolts of the JPA governance model have been shaped over the last two months, vetted by multiple agencies, attorneys, and elected officials. We're finalizing the JPA agreement now. Joining us in this work so far are Solana Beach, Del Mar, Santee, and the County of San Diego.

The five-agency partner group is on track to hit our December 2019 deadline for a 2021 launch. We also have a line-up of a number of cities and districts who have expressed interest and have begun work to onboard in the next cycle (2022 launch).

Next, from Catherine Blakespear:

I'm excited to tell you that [in August] the City of Encinitas took a major step forward in meeting our environmental goals. We unanimously supported joining the regional effort spearheaded by the City of San Diego to buy electricity from a locally run organization that can maximize renewable energy sources.

The technical description of our action was to form a regional Joint Powers Authority (JPA) for Community Choice Energy (CCE). Making this decision means we’ll meet an end-of-the-year deadline and Encinitas will be a founding member of this new organization. This action and the decision-making behind it was not trivial. Some governmental decisions are inevitable or simple to achieve, but this one could have gone in a number of different directions. I feel unequivocally that we made the right decision.

Choosing to join in a regional effort with other cities, such as the City of San Diego, that have ambitious and legally binding Climate Action Plans as we do aligns our environmental interests in the region and empowers us with local control here in San Diego County. My experience with special districts in the water and wastewater world is that we’re better served by uniting instead of splintering into multiple county organizations with their own administrative overhead expenses, small amount of programming money and the required coordinating of multiple decisionmaking bodies for any project or innovation.

Together we’re facing increasingly severe climate threats, so it's far more efficient to tackle the solutions together. There are multiple perspectives on this topic, and they all have validity. But I'm hopeful that other North County cities who are currently ready to consider a multi-city JPA on Community Choice Energy, like Del Mar, Solana Beach and Carlsbad, will seriously consider becoming founding members of the regional JPA instead of forming their own organizations or deciding not to act for a year or more.

The time for action is now, given the urgency of the climate crisis and increasingly challenging state regulations. Want to learn more? Here's the Encinitas supplemental staff report that highlights the reasons that the subcommittee of Councilmember Joe Mosca and I recommended to the City Council that we join forces within a regional JPA. 

Final comment by the Carlsbad and Encinitas Teams: Our motivation has always been to bring Community Choice Energy here. Our two cities may have made different decisions about how to achieve it, but the goal remains the same. Both cities have committed to CCE as fast as possible.