REGION — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 Tuesday to select San Diego Community Power as part of a Community Choice Energy program.
After more than an hour of debate and public input, supervisors voted to select San Diego Community Power (SDCP) — which includes Chula Vista, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, La Mesa and the city of San Diego as members — over Clean Energy Alliance, which lists Carlsbad, Del Mar and Solana Beach as members.
Community Choice Energy (CCE) programs are local nonprofit, public agencies that provide electricity service to residents and businesses. Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said that ultimately, a CCE gives residents a choice, and those who wish to stay with their existing provider may do so.
Fletcher joined Terra Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas in citing SDCP’s broader reach and stronger renewable programs. They also said a CCE will result in good, union-paying jobs.
Representatives from environmental groups and labor unions had urged the Board to select SDCP as the CCE provider.
Matthew Vasilakis, policy co-director of Climate Action Campaign, said that SDCP provides members a sustainable pathway to a clean-energy future and is devoted to lifting up communities of color.
“We need to work together in partnership … to save the people and places we love from the climate crisis,” Vasilakis said.
Rick Bates, a researcher with Unite Here Local 30, said SDCP will benefit residents living in neighborhoods more impacted by a changing climate.
In October 2019, the Board voted to establish a Community Choice Energy program for unincorporated areas, including a goal of 90% renewables by 2030. The board’s earlier actions also included forming a joint powers authority with the CCE provider.
In April, the Board directed staff to explore options for renewable energy projects. County staffers then worked on a feasibility study and held five public workshops.
Fletcher said the county researched joining a CCE for two and half years, involving “robust and diligent work to get where we are today.” He added, “It makes all the sense in the world to move forward.” He said the county still has work to do on the program, which won’t be in place until 2023.
Supervisors Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond were the no votes. Anderson said the unincorporated communities should be better represented on an advisory board, which would feature Lawson-Remer as the county’s representative and Vargas as an alternate.
He praised Lawson-Remer and Vargas for participating on the advisory board, but said that not featuring the unincorporated region is a “disservice.”
Desmond, who has previously opposed the county joining a CCE, said he preferred Clean Energy Alliance as a partner because the county would be “big fish” in that group.
He said that when it comes to energy project jobs, it was important to allow competition, which is good for the county and for innovation.