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Clean Energy Alliance is a community choice energy aggregate, an alternative way to deliver more renewable energy to customers at competitive prices. Courtesy photo

Vista, Oceanside pick renewable, carbon-free energy option as CEA default plan

REGION — The cities of Vista and Oceanside have agreed to enroll customers in a 50% renewable, 75% carbon-free energy option for residents and businesses enrolled in the Clean Energy Alliance, or CEA, beginning in April 2024.

Both cities unanimously agreed at their respective City Council meetings this month to adopt Clean Impact Plus, CEA’s 50% renewable and 75% carbon-free power supply, as the default energy plan for residential and commercial customers when the alliance expands to the two cities in April.

The Vista City Council also agreed to enroll in CEA’s Green Impact option, which uses 100% renewable energy, for all city-owned facilities and operations. 

CEA is a community choice energy aggregate, which provides an alternative way to deliver more renewable energy to customers at competitive prices. The nonprofit, public entity purchases electricity on the open market and feeds it into the existing electricity grid.

While CEA controls the purchasing power of energy, SDG&E still delivers energy through the grid, performs maintenance on power lines and continues to handle customer billing.

Vista and Oceanside were the latest cities to join the North County community choice energy program in 2022, joining Solana Beach, Del Mar, San Marcos, Carlsbad and Escondido, all of which have also opted to enroll customers in Clean Impact Plus.

“I think it’s really exciting to have this finally be coming online very soon,” said Vista Councilmember Corinna Contreras. “I’m really happy that the city’s going to move forward at 100% renewable energy. I’m OK with having our entry level for everything else be 50% renewable. I just want to make sure the city is marketing this like crazy.”

Under Clean Impact Plus, the 50% renewable energy generation minimum will gradually increase to 100% renewable by 2035, which will help the city of Oceanside meet its Climate Action Plan goal of procuring 75% renewable energy from local sources by 2030.

The estimated cost of monthly energy bills for residents enrolled in Clean Impact Plus is around a dollar cheaper than that of SDG&E, according to Vista Climate Action Plan Program Administrator Cassidy McCarthy.

“Setting the default for all of Vista’s residents and businesses as Clean Impact Plus will give Vista CEA customers the highest amount of clean energy for no price increase. In addition, it aligns with all other members of CEA, and the city has a better chance of retaining all of their CEA customers,” McCarthy said. 

Oceanside residents will also see around $1 in monthly savings, while small business consumers will save about $3 per month.

Customers will begin receiving mailed notices about the change in February, and can opt out of Clean Impact Plus in favor of Clean Impact (50% renewable energy), Green Impact (100% renewable energy), or staying with SDG&E.

Clean Energy Alliance CEO Barbara Boswell said the energy her group uses is sourced as close to the service area as possible. More energy can also be created locally as more customers generate their own energy via resources like solar panels. 

“We’re buying energy from producers throughout the state,” Boswell said. “We prefer as close to our community, as close to our service territory, as possible.”

Under SDG&E’s net energy program and CEA’s Personal Impact Program, customers generating their own energy can sell the extra electricity they produce for continued community use.   

The alliance is actively considering programs to establish small-scale renewable energy resources in the community, Boswell said. The CEA board recently considered a plan to install residential rooftop solar plus battery storage at no charge to the customer; the alliance would buy the energy, and the customer would pay a set flat rate for electricity.

CEA was originally founded in 2019 via a partnership between the cities of Del Mar, Carlsbad and Solana Beach. Greg Wade, current Solana Beach city manager, will replace Boswell as the agency’s CEO in January. 

“This is really a solid, solid agency,” said Oceanside Mayor Esther Sanchez.

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