Solana Beach opposes reforms

SOLANA BEACH — Council members unanimously supported resolutions at the May 14 meeting to oppose reforms to Community Choice Aggregation programs and support efforts to overturn a U.S. Supreme Court decision on election spending.

A state Assembly bill is proposing to make reforms to CCAs, programs that allow cities and other municipalities to buy or generate electricity for residents or businesses in their jurisdiction.

CCAs aim to provide cleaner and greener electricity at competitive and possible cheaper rates, give consumers choices and promote the development of renewable power sources.

Local investor-owned utilities — in this case, San Diego Gas & Electric — would continue to deliver electricity through their system and provide maintenance and outage response services.

Under the current law, customers are automatically opted into the program in areas such as Solana Beach that have developed CCA programs.

Under Assembly Bill 2145, customers would have to voluntarily opt in, the “primary point of contention” of the proposed legislation, Dan King, the city’s senior management analyst, said.

Opponents of the bill claim the change would “effectively kill the formation of new” CCAs, according to the staff report and some speakers at the meeting.

County Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Dave Roberts, a former Solana Beach councilman, have publicly opposed the bill.

Only two people addressed council at the meeting, but the city received emails from a handful of other residents stating opposition.

“I do think that this bill does handicap the formation of CCAs,” Councilwoman Lesa Heebner said. “It gives an unnecessary impediment.”

Warren Ruis, public affairs manager with SDG&E, in an email, stated that utilities are barred from addressing CCA-related items but noted that SDG&E “supports customer choice” and “will cooperate with any aggregating organization that is formed.”

Council also agreed to support efforts to overturn Citizens United, a case in which the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment prohibits the federal government from restricting political independent expenditures by corporations, associations or labor unions.

In general, those groups are no longer barred from using general treasury funds to pay for political communications or to promote candidates and positions close to elections.

Citizens United did not change the restrictions on direct contributions to candidates.

The staff report notes the justices held that independent spending on elections by corporations, associations or labor unions could not be limited by government regulation, allowing for unlimited spending by these groups in elections.

The decision would supersede any state or local ordinances related to campaign finance laws.

Some members of Congress are seeking to amend the Constitution to reverse the Citizens United decision.

Several municipalities and states have passed resolutions opposing the interpretation and supporting constitutional amendments.

In 2012 the California Senate adopted a resolution asking Congress to amend the Constitution to overturn the decision.

“I don’t agree with that sort of method of practicing democracy,” Heebner said in supporting the resolution.

 

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