San Diego County’s regulators select a provider for the energy voting program

The overseers voted for the San Diego Community Power (SDCP) selection – which includes Chula Vista, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, and the City of San Diego.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, California – The San Diego County Board of Directors voted 3-2 on Tuesday to select San Diego Community Power as part of a Community Choice Energy program.

After more than an hour of discussion and public speaking, the overseers voted to elect San Diego Community Power (SDCP) – of which Chula Vista, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, La Mesa and the City of San Diego are members – through the Clean Energy Alliance who has listed Carlsbad, Del Mar, and Solana Beach as members.

Community Choice Energy (CCE) programs are local, nonprofit, public entities that provide electricity to residents and businesses. Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said that a CCE ultimately gives residents a choice and those who wish to stick with their existing provider can.

“We face a climate challenge and we have an obligation to bring our energy sources to a more renewable format in a more sustainable way,” Fletcher said before voting.

Fletcher joined Terra Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas, citing SDCP’s wider reach and stronger renewable programs. They also said that a CCE will lead to good, union-paying jobs.

“Honestly, I think the energy of Community Choice is a breeze,” said Lawson-Remer.

“It offers choice and competition in the energy sector,” said Cody Hooven, the chief operating officer of San Diego Community Power.

Hooven told News 8 that this choice is beneficial for consumers.

“We’re offering our customers a higher share of renewable energies for the same price: a little cheaper in fact,” she added.

Currently the costs are around one to two percent cheaper. San Diego Community Power’s small workforce, currently only 12 people, and strong renewable programs enable them to offer more value, added Hooven.

“We try to be slim and provide good service to our customers,” she said.

While customers are automatically enrolled with San Diego Community Power, they can opt out simply by going online.

San Diego Community Power pointed out that its clients can also “opt-up”: instead of the agency’s standard 50% renewable energy, clients can get energy from 100% renewable sources.

“For a typical household for just a few dollars more a month, you can choose and be fully renewable,” said Hooven.

While San Diego Community Power is responsible for purchasing power, SDG&E, which supports the county’s decision in choosing an energy provider of the municipality’s choice, will continue to oversee other areas such as transmission, power distribution and customer billing.

The additional 180,000 unincorporated San Diego County customers acquired by the county’s most recent vote will be powered by San Diego Community Power in the spring of 2023

At the meeting of the supervisory board on Tuesday, representatives of environmental groups and trade unions asked the board to select SDCP as the CCE provider.

Matthew Vasilakis, Political Co-Director of the Climate Action Campaign, said the SDCP is paving a sustainable path for its members to a clean energy future and is committed to nurturing communities of color.

“We have to work in partnership … to save the people and places we love from the climate crisis,” said Vasilakis.

Rick Bates, a researcher at Unite Here Local 30, said SDCP will benefit residents of neighborhoods more affected by changing climates.

In October 2019, the board voted to set up a Community Choice Energy program for non-incorporated territories with a goal of 90% renewable energy by 2030. Previous actions by the board included establishing joint powers with the CCE provider.

In April, the board directed the staff to review options for renewable energy projects. The county employees then worked on a feasibility study and held five public workshops.

Fletcher said the county spent two and a half years researching joining a CCE, which involved “robust and careful work to get where we are today”. He added, “It makes all the sense in the world to go forward.” He said the county still needs to work on the program, which won’t come into effect until 2023.

Superiors Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond were the no-votes. Anderson said the unincorporated communities should be better represented on an advisory board that would include Lawson-Remer as the county representative and Vargas as an alternate.

He praised Lawson-Remer and Vargas for their work on the advisory board, but said it was a “disservice” not to present the unincorporated region.

Desmond, who had previously spoken out against the county joining a CCE, said he preferred the Clean Energy Alliance as a partner because the county would be “big fish” in that group.

He said it was important to allow energy projects to be competitive that was good for the county and for innovation.

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