San Diego County is poised to become the next agency to move toward energy independence from San Diego Gas & Electric, Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob announced during her State of the County Address.
Jacob said that she and Supervisor Nathan Fletcher would bring a proposal for a countywide community choice energy plan, becoming the ninth agency in the county to explore the independent energy market.
“It’s time the County of San Diego does the same,” Jacob said after naming the eight cities working on CCE plans — Encinitas, La Mesa, Santee, Chula Vista, Oceanside, Del Mar, Carlsbad and San Diego. Solana Beach became the first city in the county to successfully launch a CCE program late last year.
CCEs, also known as community choice aggregation, refers to the process in which a jurisdiction forms an entity that buys power on the open market — as opposed to from a utility company — and chooses the source of power based on the community input.
Jacob, a vocal critic of SDG&E, stated that the county would be looking to work with all of the cities to potentially work on a regional CCE network.
She previously tried to bring forth a CCE proposal to the county, but none of her colleagues at the time seconded the motion.
The announcement was one of several major proposals outlined by Jacob in the address, her seventh and likely final one of her 26-year career on the board. She terms out of office in 2020.
Jacob’s address outlined initiatives aimed at addressing wildfire preparedness, affordable housing creation, behavioral health, elder care and energy independence, calling it a “new era” for the county.
“We’ve got fresh voices, fresh perspectives and for the first time in a generation the new faces outnumber the old,” Jacob said. “This opens the window to the new and novel, to bold ideas and opportunities.”
The senior supervisor announced she would team up with Supervisor Jim Desmond on several fire safety initiatives, including strengthening the building code for construction in high-risk fire areas and a new grant program to encourage existing homeowners to install fire-resistant materials.
In affordable housing, she and Supervisor Greg Cox are bringing forth a proposal to double the county’s $25 million affordable housing trust fund, which she said could lead to the creation of 1,000 homes countywide, including strengthening the building code for construction in high-risk fire areas and a new grant program to encourage existing homeowners to install fire-resistant materials.
In addition to the county’s recent launch of a program waiving permit fees for the construction of accessory dwelling units, Jacob said that the county is exploring a plan to create pre-approved accessory dwelling units plans akin to the program launched in Encinitas in January.
“We have 172,000 housing units on existing lots in our unincorporated areas,” Jacob said. “If only 10 percent added an additional dwelling unit, that would go a long way to filling our affordable housing gap.”