By Nadin Abbott
June 19, 2014 (San Diego)—On Monday, San Diego City Council joined cities across California, including Chula Vista, Santa Cruz, Berkeley, and Menlo Park, as well as the counties of Monterey, Marin, Los Angeles and San Benito in asking the State Senate not to pass AB 2145.
“The act requires the community choice aggregator to provide each customer an opportunity to opt out of his or her community’s aggregation program. The act provides that customer participation in the community choice aggregation program does not require a positive written declaration for participation, but each customer shall be informed of his or her right to opt out of the program.”
The problem with this is that it requires the user to join the program, and this is a way to ensure most users do not do that. The voters also rejected this in 2010 when they rejected Proposition 16.
This bill is supported by the utilities, including San Diego Gas and Electric, because it prevents the formation of any effective competition to their monopoly status.
The resolution approved by Council, which has no force of law, was shepherded by Councilmember Ed Harris who represents District Two. But with so many cities and four counties supporting similar resolutions opposing AB 2145, it will have some chance of influencing policy making in Sacramento, as Councilmember David Alvarez pointed out before the vote.
The Regional Chamber of Commerce, of which SDG&E is a prominent member, opposed the resolution. Alisa Reinhart of the Regional Chamber of Commerce said, “We respectfully ask the Council to support AB 2145.” She reminded the Council that none in the San Diego delegation in the House voted against it. She argued that the Bill would increase competition.
Sean Kerafin of the San Diego Taxpayers Association withdrew the group’s opposition, and instead took no position.
Next the supporters of the resolution testified. Dorian Flores told the Council, “I am a grandmother and I am a member of San Diego 350.org.” She added that several years ago “I was introduced to the concept of Community Choice Aggregators (CCA), and I have been looking forward to participating in one ever since.”
This would add competition to power generation and help her by lowering her utility bill, she said. She reminded the Council that right now her only choice is “San Diego Gas and Electric or San Diego Gas and Electric.” She urged the Council to support this resolution since it would add competition, help the planet and leave a better place for her grandchildren.
Emily Wier told the Council that she sits on the City Sustainability Board. She told them that there are at least 7,000 megawatts as reasons to oppose the bill and “they are in San Diego: rooftops, parking lots and other places.” The City, she told them, has a choice right now, and this route would lead to livable wages and green energy.
She reminded Council that the City is currently exploring CCAs, and also that the County of San Diego does not get its power from San Diego Gas and Electric and indeed, the County saves money by also buying its power elsewhere. Consumers should have the same choice, she suggested.
Pete Hasapopoulos of the Sierra Club told the Council that it is time to move away from “a twentieth century model” of energy production. This bill was about protecting the utility and its production model, and not one that is conducive to meeting our green energy needs.
When the Council’s turn came to speak before the vote, Council Member Scott Sherman spoke about the good that CCAs do. Yet, he said that he would rather opt in, instead of opt out. This is at the heart of the bill. Both Council Members Lorie Zapf and Mark Kersey agreed with Sherman and voted against it.
The rest of the Council was behind Harris, and the resolution was modified to instruct lobbyist in Sacramento to make the feeling of the City clear to the Delegation.