Energy options could save city ‘mucho dinero’

Could the city really say goodbye to SoCal Edison?

Image courtesy of Community Choice Aggregation

■ By Taj Shorter / Reporter

The City of Hemet may be looking into changing the city’s energy solutions. The proposal could save residents nearly $2 million.
In a city council meeting on June 12, program manager Tyler Masters gave a presentation on Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) as an alternative to Southern California Edison as the city’s energy provider.
“CCA gives local governments, groups, or an aggregate of local governments to come together to purchase energy on behalf of its residents,” says Masters, “to provide local residents a choice.”
According to Masters’ presentation, CCA allows local governments to provide electricity to customers as an alternative to the current energy provider (SCE). The concept allows government entities to provide electricity without changing its delivery, but gives local government local control.
There are currently 17 operating CCA programs across the state of California. None has failed and no cities have opted out of the program to date, according to Masters. One CCA program is already operating in San Jacinto and another will begin to operate to the east of Hemet in Coachella Valley. In 2016, a feasibility study and business plan were developed to survey cities and their residents’ usage, consumption rates, cost of that consumption, as well as the savings opportunities from the program. Based on the feedback from the study, Masters’ board had directed to move forward with establishing a CCA for the subregion that Hemet falls under. This subregion has been labeled the “Western Community Energy” (WCE) and updates on how the CCA program is developing including how they are progressing in the area are available at www.westerncommunityenergy.com
Council member Bonnie Wright participated in the Ad Hoc Committee meeting giving suggestions for implementation of the program in Hemet. If implemented, there is a projected savings of $1.8 million to the residents of Hemet and $27,000 in savings for municipal customers. Once a city joins a CCA, it will be up to the local community to choose what power is coming into their businesses or private residences.
If the implementation plan is finalized by August 2019, then the CCA would be set to launch by 2020. Wright opened up the line of questioning following the presentation inquiring about what costs there would be to the city. Masters explained to city council that there would be no upfront costs to the city in order to join the CCA and there would be opportunity for more local control. Local government would have options instead of having to settle for SCE and the current rates being offered. Mayor Michael Perciful had some concerns regarding how the program would affect solar panel users. According to Masters, net metering consumers will still benefit from the CCA the same way they do from SCE, but with a slightly higher savings.
Concerns raised by Russ Brown brought attention to how the CCA utilizes SCE distribution tools, but at a better rate. “What assurance do we have that CCA is going to be able to purchase at a better rate…if we’re still going to use (SCE) distribution system?” asked Brown. The program manager was able to advise that non-profit agencies would be using their tax-exempt purchasing power to get the energy at a better rate for the program.
The city council was able to direct that they would further look into the CCA program for review and consideration at a future city council meeting.

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