UPDATE: Advocates of Community Choice Energy were surprised to learn of an 11th hour decision to pull the discussion and vote from the Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, August 2nd. Community Choice advocates are still encouraged to speak during public comment, even though the item is no longer on the agenda:
The vote was to be on the formation of East Bay Community Energy, a community choice aggregation (CCA) program, also known as community choice energy (CCE).
Aggregate what? In this case, electricity. CCA is a wonky name for group purchasing electricity. Community choice aggregation allows local governments to pool (or aggregate) their electricity load in order to purchase and/or develop power on behalf of their residents, businesses, and municipal accounts. This model works in partnership with the region’s existing utility (PG&E here in northern California), which continues to deliver power, maintain the grid, provide consolidated billing and other customer services. As CCAs typically have a greater percentage of renewables (solar, wind, geothermal) in their energy portfolio, they can provide significant greenhouse gas reduction opportunities for municipalities, helping cities achieve their climate action plan goals. If Berkeley chooses to join Alameda’s CCA program, that would be an important outcome.
Background – California passed legislation in 2002 (Assembly Bill 117) that permits local agencies to form CCA programs for their communities. In June 2014, Alameda County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution authorizing the Community Development Agency to investigate the implementation of a CCA program for Alameda County and its cities.
That launched an ongoing effort to push the program forward with the greatest community benefits included – local green jobs and local renewable energy. There was a fight to select a balanced steering committee that was not over-represented by IBEW (PG&E’s electrical union). After all that and a lengthy feasibility study, the Board of Supervisors is now ready to vote on Alameda’s program. Many groups have pushed this to be the best plan possible for local jobs and local renewable energy generation, while moving it toward the milestone of this upcoming vote: East Bay Clean Power Alliance, Local Clean Energy Alliance, and our Berkeley Climate Action Coalition Community Choice Energy Working Group.
If approved, Alameda would be the seventh CCA program launched in California – a growing number that’s helping renewable, local energy scale up statewide. Four other CCA programs are operational (MCE Clean Energy, Sonoma Clean Power, Lancaster Choice Energy, CleanPower San Francisco), and two others will launch in later this year (Peninsula Clean Energy in San Mateo County and LA County Clean Energy). Several other municipalities and exploring CCA throughout the state, including neighboring Contra Costa County.
What’s Next? After this Tuesday’s vote, you can follow progress and/or receive notifications about East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) on the county website. If the Board of Supervisors votes to approve formation of EBCE, then each city in Alameda County will have opportunity to decide whether or not it will join the program. As cities join, residents will receive information by mail and an outreach campaign will likely ensue. CCA is an opt-out program, meaning its customers need not do anything to join (they are automatically enrolled). Customers always have the choice to opt-out and stay with PG&E, their current electrical provider. This 2-page brochure explains what the program would look like for Berkeley, or other CCA customers.
Show Your Support – This Tuesday, you can join the meeting to tell the Alameda County Board of Supervisors that you support the formation of East Bay Community Energy and the local renewables, green jobs and other economic and environmental benefits it will bring to our county! (Talking points will be available on site or just come hold a sign).
When: Tuesday, August 2 @ 9:30 am
Where: County Board of Supervisors (5th Floor)
1221 Oak St
Oakland, CA 94612
near Lake Merritt BART
A press conference hosted by the East Bay Clean Power Alliance will take place outside at 8:45 am. (Plan to arrive at 8:30am)
Also, please send a supportive email to the Board of Supervisors using this portal set up by the Sierra Club.
Thank you for your ongoing support for Community Choice. We are nearly there!