Huntington Beach

“Community choice energy” advances

A FURTHER LOOK into the prospects for “community choice energy” was approved by the Huntington Beach City Council on Monday (Flicker/Tom Taker).

A step toward giving residents and property owners another electricity option was taken Monday night by the Huntington Beach City Council.

On a vote of 5-2 – with Mayor Lynn Semeta and Councilmember Eric Peterson voting no – the council approved a motion to use consultant MRW to proceed with a feasibility study about creating a community choice energy alternative to Southern California Edison.

“Community choice energy” doesn’t generate electricity, but instead purchases power from SCE or others. SCE would continue to provide transmission and distribution, power line maintenance and customer billing services.

Peterson said that a CCE would create more government and would primarily be about “lawyers, lobbyists and labor.” Councilmember Mike Posey countered that the city needed to plan for the future and that a CCE might provide considerable benefits.

A report was given to the city council outlining what a CCE was and possible benefits and drawbacks associated with developing such an entity for Huntington Beach.

Staff research suggested that – depending on which option local consumers chose – Surf City energy customers could save as much as 2 percent or pay a 7 to 9 percent premium over SCE rates.

The more a consumer want to elect for renewable energy and carbon-free power, the greater likelihood of paying higher rather than lower rates.

Startup costs for Irvine’s planned CCE have been estimated at $10.65 million, although it projects a surplus of over $10 million over time. Additionally, if customers “opted out” in large numbers, that might threaten the financial health of the CCE.

Three options were presented to the council. They are:

  • Proceed with the CCE feasibility study at a cost of about $66,000.
  • Direct staff not to move forward.
  • Proceed the staff to move forward with the study and explore the prospects of joining with Irvine to create the new energy entity, which is what the council eventually chose.

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