Council: Community Choice Energy
could be future of electrical service
Published:  December 16, 2015

Community Choice Energy just might be the choice of the future the City Council learned at the November 16 meeting when a representative of the Ventura County CEO Mike Powers explained the program.

Senior Deputy Sue Hughes told the council that Santa Barbara County had requested Ventura and San Luis Obispo to take part in a study last summer “To determine if it would be feasible for us to develop our own Community Choice Energy System,” essentially forming its own electrical utility.

Hughes noted that Marin, Sonoma and Lancaster have formed CCE organizations although consumers can opt on; if in they can select the percentage of green energy they wish to consume, low (35 percent), medium (50 percent) or high (100 percent). 

The CCE would calculate revenue and the purchase of green energy but Southern California Edison would continue to manage the billing, delivery and grid at a monthly cost.

“Consumers would still receive a bill from SCE but it would show the bulk of the bill,” would be used for payment to the CCE.

Hughes said the organization would continue to search for other ways to “either procure or develop renewable energy.” 

Los Angeles she added is examining clean energy for 80 of its 88 cities with clean renewable energy and is now doing a feasibility study.

“Ventura County has its own systems to create energy,” which she noted could only go so far before it is mandated to sell same to the grid.

The CCE would instead sell such locally created energy directly to the public, an idea that Hughes said has interest from other Ventura County cities.

Simi Valley, Moorpark, Ojai, Thousand Oaks and Oxnard are considering representation on the feasibility study committee and Hughes said that for a city the size of Santa Paula the cost to join the study committee would be about $15,000. If Santa Paula opted not to join it would be represented by Ventura County.

Prior to creation of a CCE a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) would be created, a move that Hughes said would cost approximately $3 million.

The JPA would manage the CCE, which eventually would have its own employees that would report to the JPA. The CCE and the JPA would negotiate with the California Public Utility Commission to sell their excess energy back to the grid.

“What does the ratepayer get out of this?” asked City Councilwoman Ginger Gherardi.

“Let’s say the bill is $100,” said Hughes. “Seven dollars would go to SCE,” for their billing service and “the rest would go to the CCE,” whose rates would be determined by the JPA and more likely be lower. 

“The income goes back into the bank if the customer wants renewable energy,” but Hughes noted that every customer would have the choice if they would prefer to use SCE as their service provider.

Vice Mayor Martin Hernandez asked about the timeline for council action and Hughes said the council has several months to decide the issue.

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