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Oceanside and Vista flip the switch to the Clean Energy Alliance

A sign for the city of Vista pictured on May, 21, 2021.
Alexander Nguyen
A sign for the city of Vista pictured on May, 21, 2021.

Oceanside and Vista are the next two cities to join the Clean Energy Alliance (CEA), a community choice energy program. But customers won't notice a big change, because their bill will still be coming from San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).

"What will be different is that CEA is providing the energy procurement and we’re offering a greater market of renewable and greenhouse gas-free energy options to customers," said Katie Melendez, the co-chair of CEA and deputy mayor for the city of Vista.

Community choice energy programs are nothing new to San Diego.


Back in 2019, two agencies were formed: San Diego Community Power for the greater San Diego region, and Clean Energy Alliance serving North County. Through these organizations, the members have a say in what kind of power they’d like their cities and residents to have.

SDG&E delivers the power, maintains the towers, and bills customers.

"Each of the cities has decided that their residents, as a default, should have 75% clean energy, which means ... a whole lot's renewable, and some of it is carbon-free, like hydro," said Dave Druker, the chair of CEA and the mayor of Del Mar.

He says the breakdown has a huge impact on getting "clean" energy to people already using energy, "At this point... almost 75% of the energy that we are providing throughout the North County is 75% clean, which compared to SDG&E has been closer to 39% in the past."

The switch is part of longer term plans.


One has to do with climate action goals and future funding, "So by having clean energy, we are going to be giving all the members (cities) the ability to meet their climate action goals," Druker said. "And that becomes very important because eventually funding ... from the state and federal government ... is going to be based upon meeting your climate action goals."

The other part has to do with profits coming back into the community.

"The difference with CEA is that instead of the revenues going back into an investor-owned utility, those revenues are part of a public budget that the community gets to decide how they're invested in the future," Melendez said.

She said profits can be used to build more local energy resources like solar farms.

Last year, San Diego Community Power invested $400,000 in grants to local programs and community organizations.

Oceanside and Vista customers can opt completely out of CEA and stay with SDG&E, but must do so online or by calling customer support.

A report from CEA's last board meeting showed only 2% of the overall population in Oceanside and Vista chose to opt out.

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