Clean energy, self-reliance, stable utility rates, consumer choice, market competition, local jobs and increased accountability — it reads like a fairy tale when discussing utilities, but for supporters of Community Choice Aggregation it’s the reality of a municipal power agency.
Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) allows municipalities to establish locally owned power companies that provide customers with the ability to choose a rate plan that correlates to the percentage of their energy generated by renewable sources. Marin and Sonoma counties have already established CCAs following the passage of a state law in 2002 that made such actions possible. CCA customers in those counties are paying lower rates than customers of the traditional power agency while generating substantial power from entirely renewable resources and returning money back to the local economy.
Santa Monicans have an opportunity to learn about the local push to establish a Los Angeles-area CCA this Sunday when Climate Action Santa Monica (CASM) will hold a presentation on the proposal.
“I believe their intent for this event is that community choice aggregation is a bunch of big words and may be confusing for a bunch of people so they’re trying to demystify it and just let the public know what it is and how it can benefit community members and the environment,” said Dean Kubani Manager of Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment.
Kubani’s office helped prompt the City Council to pass a resolution allowing Santa Monica to participate in an upcoming feasibility study. That study, funded by a $150,000 grant from the County of Los Angeles, has helped jump start interest in the proposal.
“It’s just now that it’s heating up and becoming a little more of a tipping point,” said Katharine King, with CASM. “If the project we’re working on here is a success and moves forward it has the potential of being the largest in the state.”
King said eight cities, including Santa Monica, have authorized participation in the study and up to 80 cities could participate in a Los Angeles-area CCA.
Featured speakers at the forum include Joe Galliani and Shawn Marshall, both heavily involved with CCAs. Marshall is with Lean Energy USA, an organization that helps promote CCA’s and was integral in the forming of Marin’s CCA. Galliani is the lead organizer of the South Bay Clean Power Working Group, the volunteer citizen group working on bringing clean energy to Santa Monica and other Southern California cities.
Galliani said he hopes participants in the weekend forum leave with a few key ideas.
“Coming from the perspective of climate action, the single most effective and most powerful tool we have in California to meet our climate action goals, both those existing and being proposed at the State Senate, is CCAs,” he said. “In addition, as a non-profit power agency all the money that would be profit for an investor owned utility goes back into the program, lowering rates and increasing energy efficiency right in your community. This non-profit energy group is going to keep money in our community rather than sending money to Wall Street.”
He said his presentation will include some of the unique benefits of a CCA (such as owners of solar panels being reimbursed for their excess power) but that he hopes there’s a simple message that will resonate with residents.
“What people are really going to remember is it’s cheaper than Edison, it’s cleaner than Edison and it’s locally controlled,” he said.
The forum will take place at the Church in Ocean Park, located at 235 Hill St. Doors open at 1 p.m. with the program scheduled to begin around 1:30. In addition to the CCA discussion, there will be a presentation regarding a green house gas audit for the City.