Business, Civic Leaders Question Move Toward Community Choice Energy

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Times of San Diego

The Clear the Air coalition launch was covered by the Times of San Diego on September 14, 2017:

 

A group of San Diego business and civic leaders announced Thursday that they’ve formed a coalition to question a move toward community choice energy, which would allow San Diego’s municipal government to acquire power separately from the local utility.

The Clear the Air Coalition includes former Mayor Jerry Sanders, currently president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, Frank Urtasun of Sempra Energy, and Joe Panetta, who leads the life sciences industry trade group Biocom, among others.

A city of San Diego study released in July found that a community choice program would be a key factor in reaching a goal of generating 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, part of the city’s plan to address climate change.

Community choice allows local governments to purchase electricity on behalf of customers within their jurisdiction. Locally, that would mean the city wouldn’t necessarily have to go through San Diego Gas & Electric to acquire energy.

Sanders said the report raised “several important questions — the most significant being cost. It’s impossible to tell right now what the cost would be because the California Public Utilities Commission is still determining fee structures that would impact local governments deciding to launch a CCA program.”

The CPUC could make decisions on costs over the next year and a half.

The coalition said before such a program is adopted, city officials need to be sure that it achieves “real and additional” greenhouse gas emission reductions and not burden taxpayers with significant financial risk.

“We want to reduce (greenhouse gas) emissions and increase renewable energy sources, but we want to make sure we’re doing it the right way,” said Haney Hong, a coalition member and president and CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.

“We need to know much more about what this government-controlled energy operation would cost taxpayers and whether it would really result in emissions reductions,” he said.

Lani Lutar, who preceded Hong at the taxpayers group, noted that pending state legislation would require that utilities deliver 100 percent clean energy by 2045, which would accomplish the climate change plan’s goal without putting government in the energy acquisition business.

Climate Action Campaign Executive Director Nicole Capretz, who strongly supports community choice, said her group planned to respond later Thursday.

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