Everyone in our county buys electricity from one source: SDG&E.
We don’t have a choice — it’s either SDG&E or else it’s candles and campfires.
Fortunately, California is a state that allows consumers to give themselves choices.
What does that mean?
Cities can elect to allow Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). With a CCA, residents pool their usage and buy power from suppliers on the open market.
For example, a CCA could shop for low-price power, for solar power, for hydro power, or for some combination. They can provide multiple options. And they can buy from SDG&E too. With a CCA, consumers have choices.
Suppose you’re hungry. You can go to the soup kitchen that has one soup. Or you can go to the buffet serving salads, souffles, omelets, casseroles, meats, cheeses, desserts — and you can have soup, too.
Would you go to the soup kitchen, or the buffet?
Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) such as SDG&E are beholden to their shareholders. As such, they are obligated to make a profit for investors, who may or may not be local.
In contrast, CCAs are nonprofits whose mission is to serve their customers. Extra revenue is returned to customers, or is re-invested. There’s no profit skimmed to pay investors.
CCAs also encourage local power generation such as rooftop solar panels. CCAs will buy excess power at market rates. Sure, IOUs also buy power, but they pay wholesale rates. The difference? Wholesale rates can be as little as 10 percent of market rates.
By increasing local power generation, local jobs are created. The community money stays local.
California currently has three CCAs. The Marin and Sonoma County CCAs started years ago, and both provide cleaner and cheaper power than PG&E. Both are financially successful. Lancaster’s CCA came online last month, and likely will allow that city to achieve its goal of becoming a net-zero city.
Closer to us, nine cities in South Los Angeles County have unanimously passed resolutions to conduct CCA feasibility studies. In our county, San Diego and Solana Beach are actively pursuing the CCA option.
Interest in CCAs is gathering momentum as more people learn about their advantages. It’s all about choice: Why go to the soup kitchen when you can to the buffet? But we have to make that choice — now is the time to do so.
Jim Wang, Cardiff
Jim Wang is vice chairman of the Encinitas Environmental Commission. The viewpoints expressed above reflect his individual position and not those of the Commission or of the city of Encinitas