Santa Monicans could soon receive 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources if council approves a staff recommendation to join a new power provider at the most sustainable level.
Santa Monica will be part of a Community Choice Aggregation system next year that gives customers the ability to choose who they purchase electricity from and what percentage they receive from renewable sources. Locals will be automatically enrolled in a default option as of January 1 and council will debate what that default level will be at their Oct. 23 meeting.
City Staff are recommending selection of a 100 percent renewable tier as the default option. Other options include 50 percent and 36 percent with varying prices. Staff estimate the maximum tier will increase rates.
“The average residential monthly bill ranges from $55-81 per month (2016 data),” said the staff report. “Based on this average, a 7 – 9% rate increase translates into an approximate $4-8 increase on monthly utility bills, and $56-72 increase in annual utility bills.”
Customers can opt out of the CCA system entirely or just choose a lower tier based on their budget. Qualified low income customers would receive a discount that would keep their rates steady.
The local CCA is known as the Clean Power Alliance of Southern California (CPA) and is a joint partnership of 31 local governments in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, including the City of Santa Monica.
All participating agencies have a say in the management of the organization with Councilmember McKeown selected as Santa Monica’s Director to the CPA Board.
“As a CCA, the CPA can purchase clean power and sell it to customers through Southern California Edison (SCE), while SCE remains responsible for the delivery and reliability of electricity, billing, and resolving electricity service issues,” said the staff report. “CCAs are mechanisms to achieve a higher content of renewable energy, limit costs due to low overhead and no shareholder obligation and invest in local energy programs and projects. SCE currently provides approximately 34% renewable energy as its base rate product. CPA is offering 36%, 50%, and 100% renewable energy rate products.”
According to staff, electricity use is about 19 percent of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions and reducing those emissions is a significant part of the broader efforts to achieve carbon neutrality. Work on the program began in 2015 and local residential customers will be automatically enrolled in the program in early 2019 with non-residential customers to follow. Customers will receive two notices about the program prior to enrollment and they will receive two additional notices afterwards with instructions on how to change or opt-out of the program. Santa Monica has approximately 48,000 residential customers and 8,300 commercial customers.