Santa Monica residents have been receiving cleaner electricity since February and local businesses soon will too.

City Council decided last September abandon Southern California Edison (SCE) in favor of Clean Power Alliance (CPA), a new utility that provides electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar. Residents now receive 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources as a default and the average customer pays about $6 more per month for electricity. Customers can also opt down to 50 or 36 percent renewable energy, however, or opt out of CPA entirely.

CPA will be enrolling business, industrial and agricultural customers in Santa Monica and 27 other communities in May, said Allison Mannos, the utility’s senior marketing manager.

“We emphasize setting competitive rates and keep our overhead low, and we’re negotiating longer-term power agreements to keep our prices stable, which is something that would hopefully appeal to our business customers,” Mannos said.

Enrollment will be automatic and customers will receive four informational notices in the mail, two before service starts in May and two afterward. The mailers will describe the three tiers businesses can choose: 36 percent clean power (a one to two percent bill savings), 50 percent clean power (at parity with SCE rates), and 100 percent green power (a seven to nine percent bill premium).

Commercial customers with solar who generate excess energy will also be able to sell their electricity to CPA at a rate 10 percent higher than SCE’s.

Customers will be able to opt up, down or out at any time once they receive a pre-enrollment notice in the mail through CPA’s website or customer service call center: or 888-585-3788.

About 1.6 percent of Santa Monica households have opted out of CPA, Mannos said. Less than one percent have opted down to lower tiers. 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, according to City of Santa Monica staff.

Commercial customers who remain with CPA will have the opportunity to help design new local programs for the business community, and customers who choose the 100 percent plan will also receive special recognition and marketing opportunities through Clean Power Alliance’s forthcoming green business recognition program, Mannos said.

“Part of our vision of regional emission reduction means serving our local larger commercial customers with tailored programming, such as special recognition of our business leaders who have stepped up and committed to 100 percent green power,” said Diana Mahmud, CPA’s board chair.

Laurel Rosen, president and CEO of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber supports the switch to clean energy has been meeting with businesses to explain why the program is important and the options available to them during the transition.

“People are always going to have the best intentions and want to support environmental initiatives, but they’re also going to be concerned about their bottom line,” Rosen said.  “The important thing about CPA is that it gives businesses choices based on what works for them.”

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