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Carlsbad, North County Cities Weigh Energy Collaboration

Photo by Alison St John

Carlsbad City Hall, Aug. 25, 2015.

The city of Carlsbad may consider joining with other North County cities to explore a different energy future. A workshop introduced residents to the concept of “community choice aggregation.”

The city of Carlsbad may consider joining with other North County cities to explore a different energy future.

A workshop Wednesday introduced residents to the idea of community choice aggregation — a method of forming a joint powers authority to decide which energy to buy: fossil fuel-based or sustainable.

Cordel Stillman, the project manager for the Sonoma County community choice program, said it has many benefits, including job creation, less greenhouse gasses and lower rates for customers.

“Over the first year, we saved our customers about $14 million," he said.

Stillman said it took Sonoma three years to set up the joint powers authority, and several cities that initially opted out subsequently decided to join. It went into operation in 2014, after Marin County's community choice program went into effect in 2010.

Scott Drury of SDG&E said the utility is already ahead of state targets to move to 50 percent of renewable energy sources by 2030. The company estimates 33 percent of the power it supplies comes from renewable sources — and that figure does not include individual customers who have converted to rooftop solar.

Under community choice, the decision of which energy sources to use would rest with the joint powers authority, while transmission lines and billing remain with the utility.

Carlsbad City Councilwoman Lorraine Wood said she was excited about the possibilities.

“I think I’m electrified,” Wood said. "I’ve been interested in the community choice aggregation idea, and I think this is time for us to sit down as North County to consider these possibilities. To succeed, it’s going to take many good minds, many good cities to get together."

City council representatives from Encinitas, Oceanside and Del Mar also attended the workshop.

Peter Hasapopoulos of the Sierra Club said his organization is working with several cities throughout the region. The cities of San Diego and Solana Beach are already exploring the feasibility of community choice energy.

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