ENCINITAS — In a move away from a centralized power system, Encinitas will join a countywide joint powers authority that would provide energy service to residents and compete with private companies like San Diego Gas & Electric.
Following a two-hour hearing during which they were presented with four options on how to move forward with a Community Choice Energy program, the Encinitas City Council voted unanimously last month to participate in San Diego’s CCE program.
Encinitas chose this option over the options of creating its own program, partnering with Solana Beach, or forming a coalition with Del Mar and Carlsbad.
“We’re excited to work together with the city of San Diego in accomplishing this key component of our very similar Climate Action Plans,” Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear said. “Partnering in a large regional JPA gives us many more opportunities to develop large-scale projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases in the region.”
Council members voted to join the JPA because it aligns with the city’s Climate Action Plan. In February, the San Diego City Council voted to begin the process of establishing a so-called community choice energy program with the intention of inviting other cities into the fold as the program expands.
The county of San Diego and the cities of Chula Vista and La Mesa have also expressed a willingness to join the CCE program in recent weeks.
Over the last few years, Encinitas has worked both separately and together with other North County coastal cities on potential approaches to Community Choice Energy.
Officials in Encinitas, Carlsbad and Del Mar have been discussing creating their own coalition, and last month Carlsbad City Council members voted in favor of that option.
In June of last year, Solana Beach became one of the first cities in Southern California to develop a fully operational CCE.
Before the vote, Nicole Capretz founder and executive director of the nonprofit Climate Action Campaign, urged the council away from the North County alternatives in favor of the San Diego regional option.
“Now in our opinion is not the time to splinter, to create silos along geographic, demographic or socio-economic lines,” Capretz said. “The only way to survive is to work together as one region.”
If the city of San Diego remains on its current timeline, the joint powers authority would hire a CEO and CFO by the end of the year and begin hiring staff and securing funding in early 2020.
City officials hope to have the project off the ground and providing energy in 2021, but would need to submit the proposal to the state’s Public Utility Commission by the end of the year to make that deadline.
Prior to the vote, more than a dozen residents spoke before the council, many supporting the San Diego plan.
“This is just an amazingly heroic moment for all of us, and for you in particular, making this decision,” Lane Sharman of the San Diego Energy District said.
The Encinitas City Council will vote on a draft JPA at a meeting later this month.