Solana Beach prepares to enter new North County CCE

Solana Beach City Hall
(File photo)

As the city prepares to transition into a new Community Choice Energy program, Solana Beach will have to reconcile existing contracts and other debts incurred as part of its existing program, Solana Energy Alliance.

Since Solana Energy alliance began serving customers in 2018, the city has been looking to team with other cities to further the region’s movement toward clean energy. The new Clean Energy Alliance that the Solana Beach City Council unanimously agreed to enter at its Oct. 9 meeting will also include the cities of Del Mar, Carlsbad and Santee.

Solana Beach entered a Joint Powers Agreement with the other cities and the county to form the new Community Choice Energy (CCE) program. Solana Beach Mayor David Zito mentioned a provision in the agreement that says the CCE will not incur existing debts from the Solana Energy Alliance, which include approximately $300,000 in administrative and regulatory costs. The existing 300,000 debt is to be paid by Solana Beach. Going forward, Zito said he wants those types of expenses to be paid by the new CCE as soon as possible so Solana Beach is not solely responsible for them anymore.

“Our business likely is going away,” Solana Beach Mayor David Zito said. “We shouldn’t be having to bear the burden of that load anymore as much as we are right now.”

CCE programs allow local communities to provide residents and businesses with an alternative to their traditional utility, such as San Diego Gas & Electric. SDG&E would still deliver the energy to local customers in a CCE program, which typically provides a higher percentage of clean and renewable energy. There are 19 CCEs in California.

Customers who get their energy from a CCE typically have the option to receive 50% renewable energy, which gives them a slight discount compared to the base product from a traditional provider, such as San Diego Gas & Electric. Other renewable energy tiers in CCEs are typically 75% or 100%, which can cost a little more than SDG&E’s base product.

“This is going to be something that’s beneficial for our residents,” Solana Beach City Councilwoman Kristi Becker said. “Our energy program is going to get so much stronger and be innovative, and we can do so many more things, the things that we wanted to do in the beginning. These new environmental programs are just going to come a lot quicker.”

The council elected Becker to serve as the city’s representative on the Clean Energy Alliance’s board of directors, and City Councilwoman Judy Hegenauer to be the alternate.

“It is an exciting time,” Hegenauer said. “I can’t even count how many years we’ve been working in this direction, but [it’s been] a long, long time.”

Speaking during public comment, Del Mar City Councilman Dwight Worden commended Solana Beach for showing the “courage and foresight to be pioneers in the field.”

“The possibilities of what we’re going to be able to do as partners [include] exercising local control and having our hands on the reign of a critical public service like power that we’ve never had the ability to do and bring our communities greener energy at competitive costs to do programs that we’ve never been able to do with SDG&E,” he said.

The Clean Energy Alliance board will approve an implementation plan in December.