CARLSBAD — Community Choice Energy took another step forward for the city.
The City Council approved an ad hoc subcommittee appointing Mayor Matt Hall and Councilwoman Cori Schumacher to advise the city on the proposed CCE.
Hall proposed for the two to sit on the subcommittee, noting he has a skepticism of CCEs, while Schumacher has been a champion for the city, and others, to move to the model.
“Although I do support the study, I haven’t been convinced this is the proper path, but my mind is still open,” Hall said. “It gives us two different perspectives moving forward.”
The City Council approved a technical feasibility study in July 2017, and authorized the city’s participation in governance options on Feb. 26, 2019. In addition, the council also approved pursing a CCE prioritizing certain operating principles in March and procuring joint legal services in negotiating and preparing CCE formation documents.
The city is currently studying governance options, which will be presented to the council on Aug. 20, according to the staff report. Part of the study asked for a Request for Interest (RFI) to determine the range of other cities or third parties in a potential partnership.
According to the report, the city of San Diego and Solana Beach, with its standalone CCE Solana Energy Alliance, responded. SEA was the first CCE in San Diego County and has also been in contact with Carlsbad and others about a possible joint-powers agreement (JPA).
Carlsbad conducted the feasibility study with a cost-sharing agreement with the cities of Oceanside, Encinitas and Del Mar. Other municipalities exploring a possible CCE include San Diego, San Diego County, Chula Vista and Vista, to name a few.
The subcommittee would update the rest of the council and public on information gathered regarding a CCE. Additionally, it allows Hall and Schumacher to perform more in-depth analysis, research and discussions with staff, consultants and experts to the CCE’s viability.
The subcommittee would dissolve after one year.
“I think a healthy skepticism and diversity of our opinions would serve the city well,” Schumacher said.
Councilman Keith Blackburn also agreed with the appointments, noting much of the discussion will center on a possible JPA and with Hall’s experience over the years with other city leaders makes for a good fit.
Carlsbad, along with Encinitas, Del Mar and Oceanside entered into a cost-sharing agreement in 2017 for the feasibility study. The results showed Carlsbad, Encinitas and Oceanside could handle a standalone CCE, while Del Mar was too small in population.
Of the four, only Oceanside has yet to commit to further studies on a possible JPA. However, the study showed each standalone would save ratepayers about 2% in each city versus what they currently pay through San Diego Gas & Electric.
Vista is now another North County city on the growing list of those exploring the option, as its City Council approved on June 25 a request for proposals to join San Marcos and Escondido to evaluate a CCE program.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.