County to develop community choice energy program

Jacob, Fletcher secure board backing to look at ratepayer alternative to SDG&E

Courtesy Photo.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to develop a community choice energy program, opening the door to a more sustainable environment and competition in the local utility market.

At the urging of Chairwoman Dianne Jacob and Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, the board unanimously agreed to craft an energy initiative that could offer an alternative to SDG&E. It could also cut greenhouse gas emissions and promote solar and other types of renewable power.

Studies show that SDG&E ratepayers have been saddled with some of highest electricity rates in the nation.

“Residents, business owners and others are tired of getting ripped off by SDG&E and are saying enough is enough,” said Supervisor Jacob. “Today’s action opens the door to bring real competition to the energy market and aims to provide ratepayers with the freedom of choice.”

The board agreed to launch discussions with other local governments on a possible joint community choice energy program. Eight local cities are looking at developing choice initiatives.

“San Diego County today took a significant step toward a more sustainable future. This forward-leaning decision by the board delivers on our responsibility to leave the county and our environment in better shape than we found it,” said Supervisor Fletcher. “Community choice energy provides greater local control, leverages renewable energy, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. I am looking forward to working with staff over the next few months to demonstrate why implementation of a community choice energy program and collaborating with other cities in the region is good for the county.”

Also known as community choice aggregation, choice programs allow municipalities to band together to buy and sell electricity at competitive, if not lower, rates compared to the large investor-owned utilities.

County supervisors will be briefed on the development of a choice plan over the next few months, with a detailed proposal expected to reach them in October.

Unlike San Diego residents and businesses, the county is already allowed to shop the energy market, an option that saved taxpayers $3.4 million last year.

There are now 19 choice programs in California, serving eight million people.