CARLSBAD — The Clean Energy Alliance expects to launch service in North County by May 2021 following a Dec. 19 meeting. The alliance voted to adopt and submit its implementation plan to the California Public Utilities Commission prior to the Dec. 31 deadline.
Also known as a Community Choice Aggregation, CEA will set rates at least 2% below San Diego Gas & Electric, start with a 50% renewable energy portfolio and hit 100% renewables by no later than 2035.
One concern is SDG&E is planning on installing a billing system as CEA comes up on its launch date. SDG&E will be the billing agent for CEA but revamping the entire system will take time.
“I want to make sure we are giving them enough notice,” CEA board member Kristi Becker of Solana Beach said. “I want to make sure we work that out sooner rather than later.”
The implementation plan consists of governance, rate impacts, greenhouse gas reduction, power resources, supply operations, finance, customer metrics, procurement methods, meeting climate action plans and more.
In addition, the CEA board also approved Bayshore Consulting Group, Inc., as the interim chief executive officer for the rest of Fiscal Year 2019-20 not to exceed $50,000.
As for the startup costs, CEA’s total cost is $450,000, which will be evenly split between the Carlsbad, Del Mar and Solana Beach and is expected to be recouped during the first two years of the CCA. The projected budget for FY 2020-21 is nearly $4 million.
The CEA program is opt-out, meaning customers will be automatically enrolled and must request to remain with SDG&E, according to the plan. CEA is estimating an opt-out rate of 10%, according to Barbara Boswell, of Bayshore Consulting, who prepared the plan.
The California Public Utilities Commission has 90 days to review and certify the plan, she said.
“Within those 90 days, there are a number of other steps to be completed,” Boswell said. Those include filing a customer notice and procurement plan and executing a CCA service agreement with SDG&E.
The county of San Diego and city of Santee have expressed interest in joining the three cities’ JPA as founding members.
Solana Beach launched the county’s first CCA (Solana Energy Alliance) several years ago, but by joining CEA, its city’s customers will be transferred and SEA will cease operations.
The cities of San Marcos, Vista and Escondido are undergoing a joint feasibility study, and could also be founding members if they decide to move forward with a CCA. Oceanside, which was part of a feasibility study with Carlsbad, Encinitas, Del Mar and Solana Beach, is still considering whether to join a CCA JPA.
The city of San Diego also started its own CCA with Chula Vista, La Mesa, Encinitas and Imperial Beach all on board. However, one sticking point between all the municipalities was the voting structure between CEA and San Diego Community Power.
CEA voted to a straight tally vote (one city, one vote), while San Diego Community Power included a weighted voting structure, giving more power of those votes to larger municipalities such as San Diego and Chula Vista.