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Del Mar takes next step toward Community Choice Energy

DEL MAR — Amidst a growing regional dialogue on Community Choice Energy (CCE), the smallest city in the county is making its voice heard.

At an April 15 Del Mar City Council meeting, council members voted 5-0 to take the next step in establishing a CCE in North County.

The council expressed its intention to pursue a CCE program, and accepted a final technical feasibility study pursued by Del Mar, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside that was meant to gauge the program’s feasibility in North County.

CCE allows local governments to harness control over energy procurement. Although programs differ depending on a region’s priorities, many CCEs opt to provide more energy from renewable sources than your average investor-owned utility.

So far, Solana Beach is the only city in the county and San Diego Gas & Electric territory to establish such a program, though it has become increasingly popular in the state at large.

Carlsbad passed a resolution in March stating its intent to pursue CCE, with Encinitas to consider such a resolution on April 17. Del Mar’s policy does not bind the city to pursue CCE, but marks their intent “in solidarity” with their North County neighbors.

With the city of San Diego as well as the county moving forward with CCE, Del Mar is taking a deeper look at its governance options.

In early March, the city extended their contract with EES Consulting — which drafted the feasibility study — to look at how a Joint Powers Authority could be formed with the other North County cities, an existing CCE like Solana Beach, or San Diego County.

The technical study determined that Del Mar is the only city among the study’s participants that could not go at it alone, due to its smaller electricity load.

The city also directed staff to pursue joint legal services, which will help participating cities navigate the legal complexities of establishing a CCE.

Resident and former councilman Terry Sinnott spoke during the item’s public comment, urging the city to “make sure you have an understanding of the risks” of establishing a CCE.

“You’re going down a path that is very complex,” he said, recommending the city get a second opinion from the Finance Committee.

The city is anticipating another public workshop on CCE to take place in August or September, as EES Consulting wraps up its analysis of potential governance options.

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