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Community Choice Energy
The cities of Escondido, San Marcos and Vista commissioned a study to explore the pros and cons of Community Choice Energy programs. File photo
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Escondido considers entering into Community Choice Energy program

ESCONDIDO – The City of Escondido, along with San Marcos and Vista, is in the process of conducting a feasibility study to determine if a Community Choice Energy (CCE) program would be financially viable.

The municipal aggregation program, also known as Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), is an alternative to traditional investor-owned utilities such as SDG&E.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, these programs allow “local governments to procure power on behalf of their residents, businesses, and municipal accounts from an alternative supplier while still receiving transmission and distribution service from their existing utility.”

CCEs purchase power on behalf of their customers with the goal of lowering costs, allowing consumers greater control of their energy sources and offering a cleaner power supply to satisfy community priorities.

Assembly Bill 117 allows local governments the authority to form CCEs.

The city partnered with San Marcos and Vista to explore the pros and cons of multiple governance options to determine appropriate governance structures and identify potential third-party alliances.

“What makes this process a little unique is that it’s kind of formed jointly between the cities of Vista, San Marcos and Escondido, so we all have to be kind of comfortable with the methodology and the conclusions of the report,” said Mike Strong, Escondido’s community development director. “It’s taken considerably longer than I think we all anticipated.”

The study is part of the city’s updated Climate Action Plan, which was approved last month. The CCE would be part of the effort to meet the city’s 2030 greenhouse gas emissions target.

“Assumptions were to get to 90% clean energy by the year 2030, which aligns with the City of Vista’s Climate Action Plan goals, but does not align with San Marcos Escondido,” Strong said. “San Marcos has a 95% clean energy goal by 2030, and Escondido has 100% goal based on the adopted Climate Action Plans.”

Strong added that, because of these types of discrepancies that still need to be finalized, the report is not able to be released just yet.

The study was commissioned back in 2019 and, according to Strong, city staff should be completing the study and presenting it to the council by the end of April.

Once the study is complete, each respective city will be asked to receive and file the report, which is likely to happen sometime in May.

If any of the cities are interested in pursuing a Community Choice Energy program further, they would then explore the governance options introduced in the feasibility study.

The city would then release a request for interest (RFI) to gather information from other potential city partners in forming a CCE.

All of this will be discussed when the council receives the results of the feasibility study sometime in May.

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