Critics call bill a "poison pill" aimed at restricting the ability of local municipalities to provide consumers with alternatives to buying power from utilities
By Roy L Hales
Originally published at the Eco Report: http://www.theecoreport.com/green-blogs/technology/energy/utilities-energy-energy-articles/californian-legislation-threatens-community-choice-aggregates/
May 4, 2014 (San Diego)--The second of California’s community choice aggregates (CCA) was launched amidst state legislation (AB 2145) that could restrict further competition with established utilities.
Sonoma Clean Power opened on on May 1, 2014, “with lower rates than PG&E and greater levels of safe, clean energy.”
Marin Clean Energy has been in business since 2010.
There are other community choice aggregates being formed in San Diego, San Luis Obispo, the Bay area and other parts of California.
Up until now, local governments that wished to form a community choice aggregate could count on enrolling the residents of their districts. They would have the option of opting out and staying with their old utility.
AB 2145 would make it necessary for every would-be customer of the CCA to make a positive declaration before they can be enrolled.
According to an online petition, that you can access here, it is a “poison pill” designed to limit a CCA’s ability to viably exist at the local level.
“Sounds fine until you realize that very few people opt-in to anything new and thus this bill guts the very provision of Community Energy law that assures a successful launch: All-In on Day One … plus opt-out at any time to return to the Investor-Owned Utility,” said Lane Sharman, Co-founder of the San Diego Energy District Foundation, in a press release.
“AB 2145 would completely gut the ability of California communities to viably launch CCA programs that can compete on a level playing field with investor owned utilities. This bill is anti-consumer, anti-competition, and anti-environment,” said Shawn Marshall of LEAN Energy, in the Bay area.
Ann Hancock, Executive Director of the Center for Climate Protection, the organization that helped launch Sonoma Clean Power, stated that “Community Choice is the most powerful solution local governments have to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This bill would steal that solution from cities and counties throughout the State.”
Al Weinrub, coordinator of the Bay Area’s Local Clean Energy Alliance said, “There are emerging Community Choice programs all over California that have the potential to put thousands of people to work building local clean energy resources, and thereby enable us to shut down fossil fuel power plants that are polluting the air and lungs of our lowest income communities. AB 2145 would halt these clean energy programs dead in their tracks.”
Sierra Club’s Andrew Christie, who is working to establish a Community Choice program in San Luis Obispo County said, “If AB 2145 passes, community choice will be replaced with zero choice. There will be no chance of establishing local, public energy programs that would incentivize a local green energy economy.”
AB 2145 opponents include several local governments around the State; Sierra Club California; The Utility Reform Network; 350.org Bay Area, Santa Barbara and San Diego chapters; LEAN Energy U.S.; Local Clean Energy Alliance; the California Public Utility Commission’s Office of Ratepayer Advocates; the California State Association of Counties; the League of California Cities; Communities for a Better Environment; CLEAN Coalition; Retail Energy Supply Association; Alliance for Retail Energy Markets; Marin Clean Energy; Sonoma Clean Power; World Wildlife Fund US; and the California Solar Energy Industries Association.
This bill has been referred to the Standing Committee on Appropriations.
Photo, top: State Senate chamber, photo by Miriam Raftery