Del Mar continues studying community choice energy


Del Mar is the latest city in a quartet of jurisdictions to agree to further study energy alternatives.

The Del Mar City Council directed city staff on Monday, March 4 to participate in a public workshop and continue a study with the cities of Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside to solicit community feedback regarding a joint community choice energy (CCE) plan to replace San Diego Gas and Electric as their electricity supplier.

The study evaluated the potential for the four cities to form a CCE program, a concept that is already being instituted in other areas, including Solana Beach, and many cities in Northern California.

The study concluded that if the four cities united to form their own program, it could reduce customer rates an average of 2 percent.

Del Mar city staff said Monday that a CCE can help a city achieve cheaper rates, less greenhouse gas, encourage local economic development and retain local control over power products and rates.

Del Mar began looking at pursuing its own energy plan about three years ago as a way to meet its 2035 goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, said Clem Brown, the city’s environmental sustainability/special projects manager.

“Recognizing that energy use is a significant contributor to the City’s GHG emissions (36 percent of the 2012 baseline), one of the [Climate Action Plan (CAP)] goals is to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2035,” reads a city staff report. “Implementing a CCE program is one of the actions identified in the CAP that would facilitate the City achieving this goal.”

There are 19 operating CCEs in California, which serve about 20 percent of the state, Brown said. If all goes according to plan, the joint North County program could be operating in 2021, he said.

State legislation allows local governments to create the programs as alternatives to power distribution operated by investor-owned utilities such as SDG&E.

Agencies that choose the Community Choice model can buy the type of green energy, such as solar or wind power, that they would like to provide their constituents.

Del Mar’s Sustainability Advisory Board will meet with the Encinitas Environmental Commission on March 11 to further discuss the venture.

The Del Mar council’s final acceptance of the study is expected on April 15.