Santa Monica City Hall (File photo)

Santa Monicans could soon receive 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources following an Oct. 23 City Council decision to set default options at maximum sustainability.

By February, residents will be enrolled in a new electricity system and receive 100 percent of their household electricity from renewable resources such as wind or solar, unless they choose to opt down to 50 or 36 percent or out of the program entirely. Customers will be able to opt down, up, out, or back in at any time.

According to City staff, electricity use comprises about 19 percent of Santa Monica’s total greenhouse gas emissions and reducing those emissions is a significant part of the City’s broader efforts to achieve carbon neutrality.

If every Santa Monica household opted for 100 percent renewable energy, the city’s total emissions would be 35 percent lower than they were in 1990, said City analyst Garrett Wong. Initial estimates project a rate increase of between 7 – 9 percent for the default choice.

In that scenario, Wong said, the average customer will see about a $6 increase from their Southern California Edison bill, and low-income qualified customers will see no increase in costs at all.

“This is the most significant action people can take with the least amount of inconvenience,” Wong said.

Council voted in December 2017 to become a member of the Clean Power Alliance (CPA), an electricity provider for communities across Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and set a 100 percent renewable energy tier for municipal and commercial accounts in February. CPA requires its members to select default options for renewable energy rates.

The municipally supported agency will source its electricity from renewable sources and use Edison’s existing power lines to reach customers.

Residents who have installed solar panels will also receive more money for the excess electricity they generate, Wong said. CPA’s buy-back rate for electricity is about six cents per kilowatt hour, compared to SCE’s rate of two to three cents.

Starting in December, CPA will send every customer four informational mailers about the program, which will include estimated electricity costs. Staff will also conduct outreach through blogs, newsletters, social media, and in-person presentations.

Other communities with a 100 percent default option include Culver City, West Hollywood, South Pasadena, San Buenaventura, Ojai, Rolling Hills Estates, and Ventura County.

Santa Monica has approximately 48,000 residential customers and 8,300 commercial customers.

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