Solana Beach to become first San Diego city to launch community - KUSI News - San Diego, CA

Solana Beach to become first San Diego city to launch community choice energy plan

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SOLANA BEACH (KUSI) — The Solana Beach City Council voted 4-1 to launch a community choice energy plan, becoming the first city in San Diego County to adopt such a program, according to a statement Thursday from a regional climate watchdog organization.

Wednesday's approving vote will allow Solana Beach to purchase electricity on behalf of customers within its jurisdiction -- not necessarily through San Diego Gas & Electric -- and secures the city's "legacy as climate champions,'' said the watchdog group Climate Action Campaign.

Several cities in the county, including San Diego, are considering community choice energy plans as a way to help meet future climate and clean- energy goals. Other cities mulling the change are Encinitas, Del Mar and Carlsbad.

Under state law, community choice energy allows local governments to purchase electricity on behalf of their customers. Locally, that would mean cities wouldn't necessarily have to purchase energy through SDG&E, though they still could.

Solana Beach's program will launch in July 2018 as the city joins more than 70 others across California to adopt community choice programs, according to the CAC.

"Solana Beach has always been at the vanguard of innovation and environmental action, and this vote is just another example of their regional leadership,'' said Nicole Capretz, CAC executive director. "The mayor and council are to be commended for paving the way for all of San Diego so that families can break away from the monopoly utility and enjoy the freedom to choose their electricity provider.''

In July, a feasibility study commissioned by the San Diego City Council found that a community choice program would be a key component of helping the city fulfill its Climate Action Plan and reach 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035.

"We're moving full speed ahead to reach our ultimate goal of using 100 percent renewable energy citywide, and this study shows we have the ability to get there,'' Mayor Kevin Faulconer said at the time. "This analysis underscores that San Diego's Climate Action Plan is not only ambitious, it's achievable.''

A community choice energy plan is just one possible option for the city of San Diego to meet its renewable energy goals, but it's the only one that has been studied for feasibility thus far. The San Diego City Council hopes to make its own decision on how to meet renewable energy goals -- possibly with a community choice plan like the one approved by Solana Beach -- in early 2018.

But the community choice model is facing opposition from some local leaders. A group that includes former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, called Clear the Air Coalition, was formed last month to question the move toward community choice energy.

Sanders said the July report to the San Diego City Council raised "several important questions -- the most significant being cost.''

"It's impossible to tell right now what the cost would be because the California Public Utilities Commission is still determining fee structures that would impact local governments deciding to launch a (community choice energy) program,'' Sanders said.

The Clear the Air Coalition said before such a program is adopted, city officials need to be sure that it achieves "real and additional'' greenhouse gas emission reductions and not burden taxpayers with significant financial risk.

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