Del Mar council discusses Community Choice Energy

Months after adopting the city’s Climate Action Plan, the Del Mar City Council on Oct. 3 declared Del Mar’s interest in exploring the feasibility of Community Choice Energy.

The council’s unanimous resolution enables the city to request energy-use data for Del Mar customers from San Diego Gas & Electric. The data is needed to potentially participate in a study with other North County cities to better understand the feasibility of forming a regional Community Choice Energy Joint Powers Authority.

“We need to take this step now,” Councilman Dwight Worden said. “It’s risk-free, cost-free to get in the game and find out can we work with people to buy a car and is there room for us in the backseat.”

The council adopted the city’s Climate Action Plan in June, outlining how Del Mar can combat climate change. The plan serves as a comprehensive roadmap, with strategies the city could use to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2035.

One of the city’s most significant strategies identified in the Climate Action Plan is the goal of working toward 50 percent renewable energy supply by 2020 and 100 percent renewable energy supply by 2035.

“It’s commonly thought in the industry that the most realistic way to achieve that is by way of community choice energy or community choice aggregation,” said Acting City Manager Kristen Crane. “So there’s been a work effort amongst some of the cities in North County along the coast … to look at any potential for partnering.”

Worden and Councilman Don Mosier requested the item be placed on the council agenda. As liaisons to the city’s Sustainability Advisory Board, both councilmen attended two meetings that were sponsored by the city of Encinitas and included elected officials and staff from other North County cities.

In May, a subcommittee of the Encinitas council held an early meeting with representatives from Del Mar, Solana Beach, Carlsbad, Oceanside and Poway to share information and explore potential interest in forming a regional Community Choice Energy JPA. Community Choice Energy strategy enables local governments to aggregate renewable

energy supplies within and across jurisdictions to satisfy energy demands while continuing to operate with an existing electricity provider for transmission and distribution services.

In June, the subcommittee held a second meeting with representatives from Del Mar, Solana Beach, Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside and Poway, along with a SANDAG representative and members of the public, to continue to explore a potential partnership.

Potential partnering cities have expressed interest in completing a feasibility analysis to better understand the feasibility of forming a JPA. Before determining resources for such a study, however, each city must first request electronic load data from SDG&E.

The cities of Encinitas and Oceanside have already passed similar resolutions. A similar resolution is on a future agenda for the Carlsbad council.

A step ahead, Solana Beach is already looking to create the county’s first local power program and has been searching for a service provider to make that possible. The city recently received proposals from three companies interested in helping Solana Beach create a Community Choice Aggregation program.

“The next steps would be to examine doing a feasibility study, which would require reaching agreement with however many coastal cities that participate in this process,” Mosier said. “That would be a separate council action.”

Worden added that experts have said communities need about 60,000 or more meters to have a viable Community Choice Energy program. Del Mar only has about 2,000 meters, he said. The load data would give the city accurate information.

“So we’re like the small fry,” he said. “We’re hoping our neighbors will get together and buy a big, fancy car and we can sneak in the backseat and ride in their car.

“Whether or not we’ll be able to pull that together in the form of a JPA and collectively actually buy the car is a big question mark that’s yet to be resolved,” he added. “Even if we can pull that off, whether or not it makes sense for us to participate in that on a long-term basis — given fluctuating rates, contractual obligations and a whole myriad of things — is also not all that clear.”