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Council advances CCA, backs DACA resolution

SOLANA BEACH — Council members at the Nov. 15 meeting voted 4-1 to adopt an ordinance establishing community choice aggregation and approving the implementation plan and statement of intent.

All three actions — none of which commit the city to launching CCA — are required by state law to advance the program, which allows cities and counties to aggregate electricity demand within their jurisdictions to buy or generate alternative energy supplies.

Solana Beach won’t own power poles or utility lines or delivery the energy. That would all remain the responsibility of San Diego Gas & Electric.

The city has been working on potentially establishing CCA for its residents since about 2011 and is the first in the county to be on the verge of bringing the program to fruition.

The implementation plan outlines the process and consequences of aggregation and addresses everything from rate setting and participant rights to terminating the program.

The approved plan will be submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission within the next few weeks. Once that happens the state agency will have 90 days to review and certify it.

The submittal also triggers the six-month timeframe in which SDG&E is required to be ready to manage a CCA launch.

According to state law, all customers will be automatically enrolled in the program unless they opt out, which they can do 60 days before and after the anticipated June 1 launch.

The program will be governed by City Council and operated under the direction of the city manager.

According to the implementation plan, start-up costs will be met through credit by third-party vendors and are expected to be fully recovered through customer generation rates within the first several years of operation.

The city plans to develop a portfolio of mixed resources to meet customer needs, increase control over energy costs and maintain competitive rates. Power will initially be purchased from third-party suppliers.

A 90 percent participation rate of the approximately 7,270 eligible customers is expected. According to a consultant Solana Beach’s program would still be viable with 80 percent participation. He said no other existing CCA has had an opt-out rate lower higher than 20 percent.

Should the city choose to not launch CCA it still must pay the two consultants the amount of money they have spent to that point or $156,000, whichever is lower.

All but one of 27 emails sent to the city supported the ordinance, as did six of seven speakers at the meeting. A few residents from other cities, including Santee, Carlsbad and Poway, urged council to move forward to hopefully encourage their council members to follow suit.

Solana Beach resident John Boat stated concerns about a lack of expertise by council and staff members to operate the program, the amount of staff time that could be required and unknown potential costs.

Louise Abbott said the program should be put to a public vote.

Mayor Mike Nichols said that isn’t necessary because residents will be essentially cast a vote by opting out.

As she has consistently done in the past, Councilwoman Ginger Marshall voted against the ordinance. While supportive of the program, she said she has concerns and unanswered questions about costs, potential unknown risks and the regulatory processes.

Also at the Nov. 15 meeting, council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution asking Congress to continue the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and provide its recipients with a pathway to permanent residency and citizenship.

DACA allows some who entered the country illegally as minors to remain, attend school and work for two-year renewable periods without the threat of deportation. President Donald Trump rescinded the order in September and gave Congress until March 6 to approve legislation to create or replace the program,

To be eligible, applicants had to have arrived in the United States before age 16 and lived in the country since June 15, 2007. They could not have been older than 30 when the Department of Homeland Security enacted the policy in 2012.

Ten people urged council to adopt the resolution, which was prompted by a request from Councilman Dave Zito after a similar move by the Solana Beach School District.

He said there were comments made earlier in the meeting that approving CCA would “probably be the most significant vote that we would make in our time on council.

“I have to disagree,” Zito added. “That vote was about energy. This vote’s about people. This one’s way more important.”