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San Diego Community Power profits invested in local groups

The sun rises above power lines in the San Carlos neighborhood in San Diego, Oct. 1, 2020.
KPBS Staff
The sun rises above power lines in the San Carlos neighborhood in San Diego, Oct. 1, 2020.

San Diego’s largest community choice aggregator (CCA) — one of two local agencies that buy electricity for local utility customers — is pumping nearly $400,000 in profits into the local community.

San Diego Community Power, one of the largest CCAs in California, serves nearly one million customers in six cities and the county’s unincorporated areas.

The CCA signs long-term contracts with power providers to bring electricity to the San Diego region.


The agency took over the job from San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) this year, although individual customers can choose to have SDG&E continue to buy electricity for them. The investor-owned utility’s primary job is to maintain and expand the grid as energy demand ramps up.

San Diego Community Power promised the agency would invest in the community after the organization took over the job of buying electricity for most San Diego utility customers.

The agency’s other major goal is to ensure all electricity sold locally is generated from renewable sources by 2035.

The idea is to keep the dollars that are profit in the local economy.

“We’re not sending (dollars) out to investors,” said Joe LaCava, a San Diego City Council member and chair of the San Diego Community Power board. “We’re not sending them out to stockholders. But we’re keeping it all here local.”


The grant applications were handled by the San Diego Foundation and that organization will distribute the money.

The grants will fund a variety of local programs focused on renewable energy and energy literacy.

Some of the money will go to groups that advocate for the climate, like the Climate Action Campaign, the Environmental Health Coalition and Hammond Climate Solutions Foundation.

Other monies will go to the La Mesa Parks and Recreation Foundation for purchasing electric tools, the MAAC Project for increasing community adoption of electric vehicles and The Green Building Council’s electric cooktop program.

The United Women of East Africa landed a $45,000 grant to reach out to the county’s approximately 30,000 East African residents.

“We wanted to be able to teach the youth about sustainable energy,” said Meshate Mengistu of United Women of East Africa. “And how they can change their attitude on energy consumption and how to live green. Especially in this day and age where energy is just so expensive.”

Community Housing Works is also getting a grant to support climate resilient homes. Money is also going to Casa Familiar for workforce development and Grid Alternatives for solar panel installation at schools.

San Diego Community Power serves customers in San Diego, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, Encinitas, National City and the county’s unincorporated areas.

The Clean Energy Alliance is the county’s other CCA. That organization serves customers in Carlsbad, Solana Beach, Del Mar, San Marcos and Escondido. Oceanside and Vista will join the North County agency next year.