Santa Barbara Considers Joining LA-Based Community Choice Energy Program

Santa Barbara | Clean Power Alliance | Santa Barbara Council

The city of Santa Barbara has been looking to join the Clean Power Alliance, a Los Angeles-based group that allows cities to pull together to purchase electricity wholesale, and then sell it to is community members.

Council members Kristen Sneddon and Jason Dominguez requested that the Santa Barbara City Council discuss the matter at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The council voted 6-0 to send the proposal to its Community Choice Energy Committee for discussion.

City staff will then analyze the Clean Power Alliance option and make a recommendation to the full council by April.

“Clean Power Alliance offers cheaper, cleaner electricity and that helps our environment and economy, while giving residents more choices,” Dominguez said. “This helps the city reach its goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2020 and 100 percent renewable by 2030.”

Santa Barbara has been wrestling with how to provide energy alternatives and in 2017 considered creating a regional community choice energy program along with 11 other jurisdictions in the Tri-Counties.

A study concluded that a local program isn’t financially competitive with Southern California Edison.

Community Choice Energy, Clean Power Alliance and other programs allow cities and counties to choose their sources of electrical power and to set their own rates.

The program’s goal is to give consumers a more competitive rate, and greener options, than what the large utility companies provide.

The local governments could purchase electricity from renewable sources, and they would be delivered through existing utility transmission lines.

Dominguez wants Santa Barbara to join the Clean Power Alliance program because the first Community Choice Energy study cost $200,000, only to determine that it was infeasible.

Dominguez said most of Texas gives its residents energy choices and California should do the same.

“If it is good for the pro-oil state, it is good for us,” Dominguez said.

Environmentalists at the council meeting were supportive of the decision to study joining the Clean Power Alliance, while also pursuing local alternatives that might be more financially feasible than what the original study determined.

“We should be joining an alliance like this because it would take a lot of the burden off our shoulders in trying to create something from scratch,” community activist Anna Marie Gott said during public comment.

Councilman Gregg Hart said it’s important to study both a local and Los Angeles plan before moving forward.

“I want to carefully review additional technical analysis about the locally-based Community Choice Energy proposal to compare the costs and benefits of the local option to the Los Angeles County Clean Power Alliance,” Hart said.

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