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The California Public Utilities Commission hit the San Diego community choice energy program with three fines for a lack of backup energy sources. Stock photo
The California Public Utilities Commission hit the San Diego community choice energy program with three fines for a lack of backup energy sources. Stock photo
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CPUC issues over $1 million in fines to San Diego Community Power

REGION — San Diego Community Power has been fined over $1 million by the California Public Utilities Commission for its failure to procure adequate backup energy sources, per state records.

San Diego Community Power is a community choice aggregation program and energy provider for its members, including Encinitas, San Diego, Chula Vista, La Mesa, Imperial Beach and National City and San Diego County.

Laura Fernandez, SDCP director of regulatory and legislative affairs, said rates would not increase due to the fines, which will be paid from the agency’s power budget. Fernandez was also critical of the regulatory agency, telling media outlets its demands were “impossible” to meet.

The California Public Utilities Commission requires any load service entity (utility) to meet specific resource adequacy thresholds to ensure the state has enough energy capacity and reserves.

The state agency slapped San Diego Community Power with three fines — $62,979, $388,288, and $581,818 — for resource adequacy deficiency from late 2020 through fall 2021. According to media reports, San Diego Community Power officials attempted to purchase sufficient supplies, but there was not enough energy on the market.

According to the state utility commission, San Diego Community Power did not bid on a solicitation from Southern California Edison in 2020 since it was still awaiting a response from an earlier bid to SDG&E.

“San Diego Community Power provides no evidence that its offer in SDG&E’s solicitation was binding or could not have been withdrawn if selected by SDG&E,” reads the agency’s ruling. “Rather, if SDCP was notified of a “shortlist” selection by SDG&E, SDCP could have withdrawn a selected offer in SCE’s solicitation. By voluntarily choosing not to participate in SCE’s solicitation for available RA (resource adequacy) resources, SDCP fails to demonstrate that it was ‘impossible’ to procure September 2021 system resources.”

The state Public Utilities Commission also hammered the San Diego-area CCA for under-bidding an SDG&E solicitation in 2021, claiming the bids were far too low and resulted in rejected offers.

San Diego Community Power appealed each violation, but the utility agency overruled those appeals.

Over the same period, California regulators issued at least 10 fines to CCAs for failing to secure adequate backup energy sources, according to CPUC records. Thpenaltieses totaled more than $10 million.

The Clean Energy Alliance — which services Carlsbad, Solana Beach and Del Mar and is poised to launch in San Marcos, Escondido, Vista and Oceanside in the coming years — was not fined.

Other CCAs receiving fines include the now-defunct Western Community Energy and the Orange County Power Authority, which was fined $2.3 million.

Last year, Orange County withdrew its application to CPUC after a series of financial transparency issues, a combative former CEO and a grand jury investigation. Huntington Beach pulled out earlier this year.

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