Ventura County cities plan return to Southern California Edison for some energy accounts

June 23, 2019 – Star Tribune

For more information about Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), see our report, which denotes the folly of government managed electricity. The report, written in 2017, warned elected officials who were considering forming or joining a CCA about side effects mentioned in the article below.

Cities across Ventura County are moving some energy accounts back to Southern California Edison, the investor-owned utility they left in pursuit of greener power. 

The change is to avoid paying higher energy rates, which for many agencies amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars more in annual bills were they to remain with Clean Power Alliance. The joint powers authority formed in 2017 with the goal of procuring renewable energy at a lower cost, giving traditional power companies competition and stimulating the local and regional economy through capital investments.

The counties of Los Angeles and Ventura and 30 cities within them comprise the Clean Power Alliance, started with a $10 million loan from Los Angeles County (the repayment date was recently pushed to Sept. 30, 2020, the second such extension).

It has grown to be the state’s largest community choice aggregation program, and it’s experiencing some growing pains, which officials say are due to several factors, some outside their control.

CPA says the bill increases, which impact its highest 1 percent of users, were propelled in part by a series of rate hikes by Edison and a spike in exit fees charged by California’s Public Utility Commission on its customers.

Edison changed rates four times in five months, said CPA’s Executive Director Ted Bardacke. In at least one case, he along with the rest of the public had three days’ notice to respond. 

“These changes had unanticipated rate increases on us,” he said.

The Clean Power Alliance – fromally LA CCE – also didn’t take fully into account that its moderate climate would generate less revenue when compared with Edison’s much larger service area, which includes hotter communities that generate high summer bills, officials said.

Community choice aggregation programs work like this: Governments band together to buy storage and renewable energy, which is distributed through the infrastructure of Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and other existing companies that own it. In the case of Clean Power Alliance, a board member from each participating agency votes to award power contracts and set rates. 

Ratepayers are automatically part of a community choice aggregator, unless they opt out. Read more

Related Story: California ‘community choice’ energy program takes a hit