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Cities In San Diego County Want To Form Power Authority To Buy Clean Energy

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Two cities in San Diego county will take preliminary votes Tuesday on the issue of community choice energy. The votes in La Mesa and Chula Vista may begin the process of establishing a joint powers agreement among eight jurisdictions in San Diego County.

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Speaker 1: 00:00 Two cities in San Diego County. We'll take preliminary votes today on the issue of community choice energy. The votes in La Mesa and Chula Vista may begin the process of establishing a joint powers agreement among eight cities in the county, including the city of San Diego. Meetings have been underway for months on creating a regional energy buying entity that will bypass SDG and e and an effort to find cleaner energy suppliers. The votes are in their early stages, but San Diego's chief sustainability officer says the cities have now reached the best consensus they could find. Joining me by Skype is Cody Huvane. She is the chief sustainability officer for the city of San Diego and welcome to the program. Thank you. Now the city of San Diego has been considering community choice aggregation for a while now. Why has the city reached out to include other cities?

Speaker 2: 00:56 We did a lot of research on community choice aggregation over the last several years and there's a couple of steps in this decision making process. The first is to conclude if this is a viable pathway for us as a city. And then looking at what's the governance model you want to pursue a joint powers authority, which is multiple public agencies essentially pooling their powers into one organizational structure is something that we concluded is going to provide the most protections to us as a city from our financial protections to us. Um, and we in talking with other cities that are pursuing community choice energy as well, I think they all have concluded something similar

Speaker 1: 01:38 now, which other cities may be included in this program. W which cities have you reached out to?

Speaker 2: 01:43 We initially reached out to as many cities in the region as we could that we thought were pursuing community choice energy. Um, but right now I think the, the most likely candidates to consider it at least some structure, whatever it may be for them. Um, tonight are, as you mentioned, Chula Vista and Lamesa are having these discussions at their city council. Um, Santee, you'll be discussing it in a few weeks. And then there's some north county cities, Encinitas, Carlsbad del Mar and Solana beach. Have all been pursuing different options. Salana beach is actually already an operational community choice program. Um, the county of San Diego as well, um, has been, uh, discussing CCA opportunities. Um, they're all gonna make their own decisions, um, based on what their city council and, and, um, staff feel is best. But those are the ones that we've had the most conversations with. Three simply

Speaker 1: 02:33 can you briefly remind us how community choice aggregation or CCAS for short is different from simply buying energy from SDG and. E?

Speaker 2: 02:42 Right. It's a program that's enabled by state legislation. It's really to provide communities choice and energy providers. So it allows local governments to, uh, um, form a CCA and start procuring power on behalf of their own residents and businesses. Customers, those CCAS that are formed can choose to opt out if they rather stay with us digitally procuring their power, they can, they can opt out and stay with STD knee. In any case, whether the customer joins their local government or stays with SDG ne, the utility still provides the transmission and distribution of power. So that doesn't change. It's just the procurement of power, which allows us as a government to decide, you know, the renewable content, um, the source of the power and things like that.

Speaker 1: 03:28 And the bottom line for San Diego in going forward with one of these would be to be able to buy cleaner energy, isn't that right?

Speaker 2: 03:36 Yeah. A lot of cities in California have pursued community choice because of that reason. It allows them to make decisions about the renewable energy content more locally. Um, and also the, um, that helps us achieve some of our climate action goals. Um, we're also seeing renewable energy costs coming down pretty dramatically and local governments have a really good, uh, it's called cost of capital, so we get really good rates in the market. Um, so we're able to provide that power fairly at a fairly competitive rate. Um, it also brings additional benefits of local control. Um, so right now the state makes all the decisions around energy for us. It doesn't really consider, you know, what's best for San Diego. And so that allows that decision to be made down at the local level. Then that also brings revenue that we can again, make those decisions at a local level and what that excess revenue can be stamped on.

Speaker 1: 04:27 What's the time frame on this proposal? When do the cities have to get on board and when could a joint powers agreement gets started?

Speaker 2: 04:34 Yeah, so there's a state compliance deadline by the end of the year. Unfortunately it's not my deadline, it's theirs. Um, so we are moving fairly quickly to file. Um, what's the initial plan with the state? By the end of this year, there's going to be a whole additional year in 2020 of setting up the structure and establishing more of the policies and procurement details. But the initial, it's what's called an implementation plan needs to be filed by January 1st. So technically the end of this year

Speaker 1: 05:03 and the city of San Diego has not formally approved a CCA yet, isn't that right?

Speaker 2: 05:08 That's right. We have received direction from our mayor and city council to pursue our regional a CCA program, which is what we've been doing over the last several months is, is getting the best terms we felt we could with other local governments. And now we're all collectively gonna be bringing these details back to our city councils for independent votes.

Speaker 1: 05:27 Has this idea met with any ongoing opposition from SDG and e?

Speaker 2: 05:32 Uh, no. They, you know, it's, they make their revenue and, excuse me, their profits off the transmission and distribution of power. So I think there are, at this point, agnostic to who buys the power.

Speaker 1: 05:43 Do you know when the San Diego City Council is going to be looking to approve a forum, give formal approval to this proposal?

Speaker 2: 05:50 Yeah, we'd like to bring this to them in mid September.

Speaker 1: 05:55 Okay. Then I've been speaking with Cody [inaudible], chief sustainability officer for the city of San Diego. Cody, thank you very much. You,

Speaker 3: 06:06 uh.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.