The California Senate Energy Committee will be considering Assembly Bill (AB) 2145. The proposed legislation thwarts California’s environmental goals, infringes upon local government decision-making, and will effectively destroy the future of Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) in the state of California.
What are Community Choice programs?
An existing Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) law allows local governments to create a public, not-for-profit agency to purchase and sell energy to its ratepayers. When a city or county decides to create a community choice program, everyone within the city or county limits is automatically enrolled. However, residents are still given the choice to opt-out of the program and purchase power from the traditional utilities, if they desire. This process creates market competition in the energy sector, driving innovation and reducing rates.
What’s the problem?
AB 2145 changes Community Choice from “opt-out” to “opt-in.” If it passes, any local government that puts together a Community Choice program will be required to enroll each resident individually. This takes time, money and manpower. Preventing cities and counties from grouping many customers together will make it impossible for Community Choice programs to compete with the monopoly utilities. Customers will continue to have no choice about where their energy comes from.
Is Community Choice a possibility for Santa Barbara?
Community Choice programs are still new in California; only two exist in the entire state. However, the Community Environmental Council and other activists are working closely with the cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta, and the County of Santa Barbara, to explore such a program here. In fact, all three of these jurisdictions have included Community Choice as potential strategies to meet their energy goals in their climate action plans. We believe that Santa Barbara residents could benefit from the experiences of Marin and Sonoma, which are not only securing 30-50% green, clean energy for their residents, but also saving, in Marin’s case, almost $6 million this year. And residents in both of those communities are overwhelmingly happy with Community Choice. Even though they are free to leave the Community Choice program and return to the utility at any time, about 80% of Marin’s customers and over 90% of Sonoma’s have stayed in.