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The council agreed to increase rates to help with a lack of funds. File photo
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Solana Beach City Council votes to increase energy rates

SOLANA BEACH — The Solana Beach City Council voted this past week to increase the rates of the Solana Energy Alliance retroactive to March 1 in the final months of the program as it prepares to phase into the new Clean Energy Alliance.

The city council agreed to increase rates with a 2.4% premium with SDG&E retroactive to March 1 to help with a lack of funds. The increase is on par with what energy rates will be for Solana Beach customers with the Clean Energy Alliance starting May 1 when it officially launches.

Solana Energy Alliance is discontinuing service to its customers on May 1 when the Clean Energy Alliance begins to serve customers in the cities of Solana Beach, Carlsbad and Del Mar. The Solana Energy Alliance however has a number of contracts still to be liquidated and it is expected the city will continue to settle those contracts through January of 2023.

However, at the current rates, it was projected that the Solana Energy Alliance would not have the funds to cover its costs in May and would be $181,384 short of reimbursing incurred administration costs to the city. Because of this, the council agreed to increase the power rates retroactive to March 1 until the Solana Energy Alliance disconnects service with a 2.4% premium.

The board also considered increasing the rates to a 5% premium with SDG&E but opted for the lower increase for Solana Beach customers.

Deputy Mayor Kristi Becker, who is also the city’s representative on the Clean Energy Alliance board, said new rates from SDG&E are to blame for the increase.

“I do believe we did accomplish everything we set out to do,” Becker said. “And the only reason that we have to adjust the rates now is because SDG&E has raised their rates.”

When Solana Energy Alliance made a similar rate adjustment in May of last year, SDG&E spokesperson Helen Gao said in an email to California Energy Markets that the blame should not be laid at the company’s feet.

“SDG&E supports community choice aggregation programs and has worked collaboratively in an effort to help them be successful,” Gao said. “Unfortunately, there appears to be some confusion on the part of Solana Beach, given that the Solana Energy Alliance makes its own decisions about where and how to procure energy for its customers, independent of SDG&E. Its rates are a byproduct of its procurement strategy.”

The contention continues to be mainly with the PCIA fees, otherwise known as exit fees, that SDG&E charges to customers who leave their service for a community choice program such as the Solana Energy Alliance or soon to launch Clean Energy Alliance.

There is currently a push from CalCCA (California Community Choice Association), a state advocacy group for the interests of community choice energy programs in California, to help programs like Solana Energy Alliance in the future with these exit fees through state legislation.

“These PCIA fees are quite frustrating in many ways,” said Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner. “Look how effective our CCA has been in reducing our greenhouse gases and how much we have saved with our CCA and these exit fees are really hamstringing us in many ways. It’s very frustrating.”