REGION — Community Choice Energy is on the doorstep for Carlsbad and Encinitas.
The two cities, along with Oceanside and Del Mar, agreed to a cost-share feasibility study in 2017. The draft study was released last week during the Encinitas City Council meeting, while Carlsbad received the report on Feb. 26.
Both city councils approved for their respective staffs to explore governance options, while the Carlsbad City Council charged its staff with drawing up a statement of intent to pursue a CCE.
The Oceanside and Del Mar city councils will hear their respective presentations next week.
The draft study, conducted by EES Consulting, reveals a total bill reduction of 2 percent compared to what ratepayers currently pay with San Diego Gas & Electric, should the four cities form a joint powers authority.
If each city were to stand alone, Carlsbad and Oceanside could still save 2 percent, while Encinitas would be at 1 percent, but a CCE would not be feasible for Del Mar.
The four cities are holding a public meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. on March 21 at the Senior Center Auditorium, 799 Pine Ave in Carlsbad. The final study will be released in April.
“We’re in the midst of an energy revolution. This is exactly where environmentalism and a strong, sustainable economy merge,” Councilwoman Cori Schumacher said. “We had a speaker … who talked about the San Diego Green New Deal and that is exactly where we need to go,”
Both councils are attempting to move quickly on creating a CCE, which is possible to do before the Jan. 1, 2020, deadline. The cities must have an implementation plan submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission before the deadline to launch a CCE by April or May 2021.
San Diego County also approved moving forward with looking into a CCE.
In addition, SDG&E is attempting to remove itself from buying and selling power, according to numerous reports, city officials and Gary Saleba of EES. Saleba, though, said one of the biggest concerns comes from exit fees and the action of the CPUC and politicians in San Francisco and Sacramento.
“My biggest concern with this, at the end of the day, is the cost,” Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall said. “We need to be very cautious moving forward with this.”
There are three approaches for the cities for energy sources including SDG&E’s portfolio, 100 percent renewables by 2030 or starting with 100 percent renewables.
The governance options Carlsbad and Encinitas are researching include a stand-alone Joint Powers Agreement (JPA), a three or four-member JPA with Del Mar and Oceanside or join an existing JPA.
During the Feb. 20 Encinitas City Council meeting, Deputy Mayor Jody Hubbard asked whether they should consider three cities without Oceanside, since Oceanside may not be ready to move as fast.
Councilman Joe Mosca said there is not enough information and suggested waiting for the final report to be released before moving on potential JPA partners.
Mosca said the study on governance will also explore how JPAs with other cities, including San Diego, would be laid out with more details giving Encinitas options on how to move forward.
“By 2030, the cumulative surplus of the JPA for the four partner cities would be $111 million,” Mosca said. “That money would be here for us to build local projects in Encinitas, Carlsbad and any of the partner cities. I think there’s a huge incentive there as well.”
Regarding the governance of a JPA, Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear said there are various methods throughout the state worth researching. In addition, she said a weighted vote structure should be considered.
“To me, it seems like the governance model that we will end up choosing is to go with the other cities in the county who are ready to go at the same time we are, which would include the city of San Diego” she added. “I think we do want to have a regional approach. If we can affect other cities and get them to join in and create a county culture, it will have a better effect on carbon reduction.”
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.