REGION — Rate increases are coming for Clean Energy Alliance customers after the organization approved new rates during its Dec. 30 meeting.
Under the new rate schedule, the average customer in Carlsbad and Del Mar will see a 3.34% increase in their total bill for 2022.
According to CEO Barbara Boswell, the CEA rates will still be lower than San Diego Gas & Electric by 0.82% for the Clean Impact tier, the lowest source of green and clean energy offered by CEA.
Boswell described the new rate for Clean Impact using an average monthly bill. According to the example, the average residential CEA customer in Carlsbad and Del Mar would pay $119.91 per month, while SDG&E customers under SDG&E’s minimum renewable power supply of 31.3% would pay $120.90.
However, changes in SDG&E’s delivery charges were not calculated as those have not been released. Depending on the action, the total bill for CEA customers could decrease, increase or remain as projected over what was presented during the meeting, Boswell said.
“We analyze our energy usage and calculate what our revenue would be based on those new rates,” Boswell said. “Our rates need to be set at a sufficient level to support our operations.”
According to Helen Gao, a spokeswoman for SDG&E, the utility’s renewable power supply percentages — as reflected in its Power Content Label — dropped due to a rule change in 2020 which no longer counts renewable energy credits as renewable procurement. Prior to the change, SDG&E’s renewable percentage was 42%.
“It is important to understand the RPS percentage does not reflect our resource mix,” she added. “Rather it’s a ratio of renewable production divided by retail electricity usage.”
Boswell said CEA customers will continue to see a 2% savings in generation, although the total bill savings is just 0.82%. CEA’s Clean Impact tier calls for using 50% clean energy.
The average Solana Beach customer will see a small decrease in their overall bill of $0.39 per month. For example, the average 2021 bill in Solana Beach was $118.17 and 2022 is projected at $117.76. Those customers will save 2.6% on their total bill compared to SDG&E, Boswell said.
Solana Beach customers are in a different “vintage,” or rate category, for their exit fees and are lower due to some expiring contracts from SDG&E.
Last year, Solana Beach customers paid more for their lowest tier compared to SDG&E’s minimum offering and this year will realize a 2.6% savings in 2022, should delivery charges remain as presented. The delivery charge in 2021 was $71.26, which CEA used in its comparisons.
In Carlsbad and Del Mar, the new rates for Clean Impact Plus, which is the default option for residents and businesses and provides 50% renewable and 75% carbon-free energy, will see a 3.65% increase on the average bill and an 8.6% increase for generation compared to last year.
The average bill is estimated to be $120.26 for CEA customers and $120.90 for SDG&E, according to a breakdown provided by Boswell.
The Green Impact product, the utility’s 100% renewable energy option, will now be higher than SDG&E by nearly $2 as generation costs jumped 8.18% from last year and the average total bill increases by 5.63%. Per the example, a CEA customer will pay $122.56 per month compared to $120.90 for SDG&E.
In Solana Beach, the Clean Impact Plus rates will see a 0.35% decrease and with an overall bill total lower than SDG&E by 2.31%, or nearly $3 per month less. Last year, the default product was 1.25% more expensive than SDG&E.
The Green Impact option also decreases by 0.34%, or $0.41, and will give customers a 0.41% savings, pending the status of the delivery charge.
“I’m taking a limited view of this,” said Dave Druker of Del Mar. “I need, and the rest of the board needs, to hear more on the rates. The distribution fee … is most likely going to change.”
As for exit fees, Boswell said because SDG&E is liquidating expiring contracts, customers will see some savings on the exit-fee charge. Exit fees are determined by the California Public Utilities Commission, although utility companies present their recommendations to the state utility commission.
“Our exit fees that are being charged to our customers are actually going down,” she added. “Because the energy market has been going up, and the price of energy has been going up, SDG&E can get a greater return when liquidating their contracts on the open market.”
However, exit fees are expected to decline over the next several years due to market forecasts, John Dalessi, of Pacific Energy Advisors, told the board.
“As contracts expire, their contribution to the exit fee will fall off,” Dalessi said. “Year-to-year, it’s driven by the energy markets and the short-term. This year we’ve seen significant increases in the market prices. We’re seeing that reflected in a lower exit fee.”
Regardless, Boswell said CEA is also keeping tabs on rising energy costs in the market, increases in distribution charges from SDG&E, expiring SDG&E contracts and a potential increase in credit from JP Morgan Chase. The increase in credit, Boswell said, will come back to the board at a later meeting.
Boswell said CEA wants to minimize rates changes per year and the goal is to only have one rate change per year.
The board also welcomes new representatives from the cities of Escondido and San Marcos, which will join the CEA in April 2023. Tina Inscoe of Escondido and Ed Musgrove of San Marcos will represent their respective cities on the board. With the addition of those two cities, the number of accounts will grow to 153,168.
Solana Beach Councilwoman Kristi Becker and Carlsbad Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel were re-elected chairwoman and vice chairwoman, respectively, for 2022.