Our Power, Our Choice

The Two Paths to Community Choice Energy are On Track for 2021 Launch

The holidays are over and it is time to get caught up with what our coastal north county cities have been up to regarding Community Choice Energy. And lots has happened. As you probably know, in August, Encinitas decided to join the City of San Diego's regional Joint Powers Authority (JPA) rather than partner with Carlsbad in starting a new local JPA, as had been envisioned in the technical study. Of the other partners in the technical study, Oceanside much earlier had adopted a wait-and see attitude while Del Mar was actively considering the local option. Also, while Solana Beach had already launched their own CCE over a year ago, they all but formally committed to merging into the local JPA.

Here is a timeline of major CCE events since August, with excerpts from news articles:

October 8: Del Mar votes to join Carlsbad. From the Coast News:

Del Mar is moving forward with a Community Choice Energy (CCE) partnership, though with a more skeptical eye than its northerly neighbors. At an Oct. 8 City Council meeting, council members voted 4-1 to pursue a CCE through a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) with Carlsbad, Solana Beach[, Santee] and the county. Recently labelled the Clean Energy Alliance (CEA), the new CCE is slated to launch in 2021.

Del Mar Councilwoman Terry Gaasterland voted against the motion, after community members and the city’s finance committee voiced concerns over the risks of joining the CCE so early in the game, particularly as a small city… Del Mar veered away from joining a JPA with the city of San Diego – regardless of the city’s offer to cover start-up costs – largely due to the desire to maintain local control through the equal vote. Now, the cities face a tight timeline – in order to launch by 2021, the JPA must submit its implementation plan to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) by the end of 2019.

October 9: Santee declines to join the Clean Energy Alliance. From the East County Magazine:

Santee is having second thoughts about joining a joint powers authority with several North County cities to obtain more electrical power from renewable sources… Faced with a decision about the still evolving JPA with the cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar, Solana Beach and the County of San Diego, the Santee City Council on Oct. 9 approved only one part of a two-step process, an ordinance authorizing the city to join the JPA.

The Council declined to vote on the agreement itself, with several members voicing concerns about start-up costs and the disclosure of other information. [Instead,] the Council …stated it’s in favor of the concept, and directed its staff to continue negotiating with the North County JPA being led by Carlsbad.

October 10: Solana Beach votes to formally join the Clean Energy Alliance. From the San Diego Union Tribune:

Solana Beach already has an operating CCA in place. Launched more than a year ago, the stand-alone entity purchases power for its 7,300 customers. But Solana Beach has been looking to add partners to leverage economies of scale for power contracts, establish clean energy programs (such as building electric vehicle charging stations) and invest in renewable energy projects. Under the proposal, the existing CCA in Solana Beach would be folded into the proposed Clean Energy Alliance.

The city council voted 4-0 on a resolution authorizing a joint powers agreement to create the Clean Energy Alliance. “I think the advantage of being bigger will be really useful with respect to doing more (clean energy) programs,” said Mayor David Zito. “While we have been in operation for a year, we haven’t had the opportunities to start any programs yet because we are just so small.”

October 15: County of San Diego declines to join the Clean Energy Alliance. From the Del Mar Times:

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors … approved creating a community choice aggregation energy program but at the same time voted to wait and see what kind of governing authority to adopt in order to implement it. “Our board decided to go forward with community choice energy, which is a huge, positive step,” said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher after the 3-2 vote. “We’re moving forward with but we want to let the market settle and then we can decide which one to go with.”

The county had an offer on the table — to join Carlsbad, Solana Beach and Del Mar and form a joint powers agreement… that plans to open for business in 2021. But some supervisors worried about making a commitment right away. Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall said after the vote his city still plans to proceed with Del Mar and Solana Beach and form … the Clean Energy Alliance, … designed to replace the already existing, standalone CCA the city of Solana Beach has been running for more than a year.

December 9: San Diego Community Power approves implementation plan. From the San Diego Union Tribune:

What figures to be the second-largest community choice aggregation, or CCA, program in California is about to become official in the eyes of the state. All five board members of SDCP voted Monday to adopt an implementation plan that will be submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission by the end of this month. The commission is expected to certify SDCP to compete head-to-head with San Diego Gas & Electric on purchasing sources of energy for customers in San Diego, Chula Vista, La Mesa, Encinitas and Imperial Beach in 2021. Encinitas City Councilman Joe Mosca, who is also SDCP’s chair, has no doubt the utilities commission will grant certification.

[Note added] SDCP’s implementation plan was submitted to the CPUC on December 16, qualifying SDCP to launch in 2021.

December 19: Clean Energy Alliance approves submitting implementation plan. From the San Diego Union Tribune:

“This has everything to do with making sure that we can hit our timeline,” said Cori Schumacher, the chair of the Clean Energy Alliance. She and the other two members of the group’s board adopted a resolution to submit an implementation plan with the California Public Utilities Commission that will create an alternative to San Diego Gas & Electric when it comes to purchasing power sources for customers in Del Mar, Solana Beach and Carlsbad. The Clean Energy Alliance aims to start serving customers in May 2021.

The Clean Energy Alliance might be 15 times smaller than San Diego Community Power but one of its members — Solana Beach — became the first entity in San Diego County to go down the CCA road, establishing a stand-alone community choice energy program more than a year ago that serves 7,300 customers. Customers who are now served by the Solana Beach CCA will migrate to the Clean Energy Alliance when the new program starts.

[Note added] CEA’s implementation plan was submitted to the CPUC on December 23, qualifying CEA to launch in 2021.