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Vista moves forward with CCE study

VISTA — More North County cities are beginning to explore Community Choice Energy.

During its June 25 meeting, the Vista City Council approved a request for proposal to engage with San Marcos and Escondido for a feasibility study.

The cities are the latest to join exploring the alternative to San Diego Gas & Electric. John Conley, Vista’s director of community development, said in April a CCE program, also known as Community Choice Aggregate, would most likely be able to help the city reach its state-mandated climate action goals.

“We came before the council in April to discuss the update to our Climate Action Plan and one of the mitigation measures proposed … was to pursue Community Choice Energy,” Conley said. “We have prepared an RFP and also engaged … San Marcos and Escondido to join in the study.”

The RFP will analyze load forecasts, rate analysis and comparisons, supply scenarios, regulatory and risk, management, funding and economic impacts, to name a few.

Vista is looking at a CCE to meet its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions target. During the April meeting regarding the city’s CAP, the staff report stated the city would be 42% below greenhouse gas emission levels by 2030.

The study will also incorporate a standalone option for Vista and the other cities

Councilwoman Corinna Contreras said it is exciting to potentially join with San Marcos and Escondido. Those two cities will be presented with the RFP in the coming weeks.

“I’m really excited for San Marcos and Escondido to join, pending their council’s passing the RFP,” Contreras said. “I appreciate all the hard work that has gone into Community Choice Energy.”

A similar study conducted from 2017-19 between Carlsbad, Encinitas, Del Mar and Oceanside revealed a cost savings between 1% to 2%. Carlsbad, Encinitas and Oceanside could also form their own standalone CCEs or opt to join a current CCE program or form a joint-powers agreement with other cities or municipalities.

In addition, the city of San Diego, San Diego County, Chula Vista and National City are among other municipalities exploring a CCE. Currently, Solana Beach (Solana Energy Alliance) is the only city in the county with an active CCE, launching last year. Including SEA, there are 19 other CCEs throughout the state.

Councilman John Franklin said the city was not considering a CCE one to two years ago, but said investigating methods to protect ratepayers and looking into if the program would be cost effective is worth the time.

“There are new imperatives that we have become aware of,” he said.

As for the coastal cities, Carlsbad, Encinitas and Del Mar are all moving forward with more in-depth research of a CCE. The Carlsbad City Council approved a subcommittee consisting of Mayor Matt Hall and Councilwoman Cori Schumacher to take a deep dive into the program.

Hall said he is wary of a program, citing the economics and potential fallout of starting a new utility. Schumacher, meanwhile, has been a proponent of CCE saying it will help the city and state reach clean energy goals.

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