The Coast News Group
San Diego Community Power, a community choice energy program, started offering services April 1 in Encinitas.
San Diego Community Power, a community choice energy program, started offering services April 1 in Encinitas. Courtesy photo

San Diego Community Power continues service rollout in Encinitas

REGION — The city of Encinitas is the latest municipality to make the switch to community choice energy as part of San Diego Community Power’s ongoing service rollout across San Diego County.

San Diego Community Power, which includes the cities of San Diego, Encinitas, La Mesa, Chula Vista and Imperial Beach, began its service in February and will continue to expand its services to member municipalities over the next two months. The fledgling energy provider officially launched service on April 1 to Encinitas.

Municipal aggregation bills itself as an overall cheaper option to San Diego Gas & Electric while delivering more clean and green energy to ratepayers, although some energy experts and critics disagree with these claims.

“In total, it was about 700,000 customers that would have to come over,” Bill Carnahan, interim CEO of San Diego Community Power, said of the staggered rollouts. “With the sheer volume, there was no need to overwhelm the system. We started with the smallest and went up to the largest.”

San Diego Community Power launched its commercial and industrial service last year and will bring on the County of San Diego and National City next year, Carnahan said. Once those municipalities come on board, San Diego Community Power will be the second-largest community choice aggregation in the state with more than 800,000 customers, Carnahan said.

San Diego Community Power offers two tiers — “Power On,” which is the default tier providing 50% renewable plus 5% greenhouse gas-free electricity, and “Power100,” which is billed as 100% renewable and 100% carbon-free.

Carnahan said residents will save between 1% to 1.5% on their bill compared to SDG&E, although deliver more renewable energy than SDG&E through their two product offerings.

“We are cognizant of the fact that we need to be rate competitive,” Carnahan said. “Our goal is to be at or below SDG&E. Quite frankly, rates are a bit of a moving target. Our goal is to have a rate adjustment one time per year, where they may have two or three.”

San Diego Community Power also has several contracts with SDG&E, its parent company Sempra and Royal Dutch Shell. Also, many of its renewable contracts for wind, geothermal and solar facilities are in California, the Pacific Northwest, Canada and Mexicali, Mexico.

Additionally, San Diego Community Power and Clean Energy Alliance also sell power as allowed through several of their contracts.

Regardless, Carnahan said the 10-year goal is to be at 100% renewable energy for all the energy provider’s customers.

Encinitas residents will be placed in the default 100% renewable tier unless customers request to opt-down or opt-out of San Diego Community Power. However, bills will still come from SDG&E, as negotiated between the parties.

As far as retention, Carnahan said the rate is higher than the state average with all four cities at 96% or more. However, Carnahan said trends show more residential customers tend to opt out than businesses.

San Diego Community Power reported a deficit of $14 million as its final net position for the Fiscal Year 2021 and increased its credit line with New River Bank by $15 million from $35 million to $50 million. However, the Dec. 2021 amended budget, which includes residential service, shows a surplus of $36.8 million 9not including another $21.8 million borrowed from New River Bank.