San Diego County’s largest community choice aggregation program could begin serving National City by 2023.
The City Council last week showed interest in selecting San Diego Community Power over Clean Energy Alliance, which are the two community choice aggregation programs, or CCAs, in the county and part of 21 others across the state.
National City’s South Bay neighbors, Chula Vista and Imperial Beach, as well as La Mesa, Encinitas and and the city and county of San Diego are members of SDCP, which serves about 950,000 customers. The North County cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar and Solana Beach make up CEA, serving around 60,000 customers.
CCAs allow local governments to join a single energy supplier while keeping the existing power supplier, such as San Diego Gas & Electric, to continue distributing services and billing customers.
The City Council voted 4-1 to have city staff return at a future meeting with an ordinance and a joint powers agency agreement with SDCP that would make the move official. If the City Council approves them, all SDG&E accounts in National City would automatically transfer to SDCP unless households choose not to sign up.
For those that agree to switch, SDCP would offer more renewable energy sources and competitive rates. For example, a typical small business’ monthly electric bill would average about $378.50 a month with SDG&E and with SDCP it would pay $2 less a month for 20 percent more renewable power, said SDCP CEO Cody Hooven. Customers would still receive one bill from SDG&E, which would continue to deliver power and maintain the grid.
The vote was, in part, driven by a deadline of Dec. 31 when SDCP must report to the state on any new participating agencies. If National City agrees to join, the earliest the program could serve the city is 2023. Otherwise, the next service window would be 2024, Hooven said.
Councilmember Ron Morrison cast the lone “no” vote as he supported a motion raised by Vice Mayor Jose Rodriguez for the City Council to consider other avenues of purchasing energy. That motion failed by a 3-2 vote.
“I am not ready to rush into this, because all of a sudden we got this deadline thrown before us when it’s the first time brought before us here,” Morrison said.
Several members of the public, ranging from residents to union workers, were divided on the issue and cautioned the council to take its time before deciding whether to join a CCA. Some opponents said that switching would lead to job losses and affect low-income customers.
“Wealthy and green-conscious early adopters who can afford to make the switch to electric only would saddle poor and working-class Californians … as the pool of ratepayers who cover these costs shrinks,” said resident Angel del Rosario.
Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis said the decision to move forward with joining SDCP “really helps us guide our decisions with our future climate action goals.”
Central to the city’s updated Climate Action Plan, which aims to align with California’s emissions reduction target of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, is joining a CCA.
“(O)ur Climate Action Plan has to be robust. It cannot be one view of how we’re gonna reach our climate action goals and this is the start of the conversation. This is one way of doing it,” said Sotelo-Solis. “We need to meet that deadline, but I also feel that as we address the workers’ needs, as Councilmember (Marcus) Bush mentioned, this is one way to do so with our partners both in the north and the south.”