Government electricity step worth consideration

The idea of Butte County and Chico buying electrical power for their businesses and citizens raises concerns as a concept, but those concerns sure do ease with examination.

It sounds like bureaucracy spreading into a private enterprise, but in the case of providing electricity, it’s really nothing new. Redding has been providing power for its residents for more than a hundred years. Gridley does the same thing.

What the county and Chico are looking at is a little different. Under community choice aggregation, an entity created by the two governments would buy power that still would be delivered by PG&E. All the lines, poles, substations and the like would be retained by PG&E.

We’d be terribly concerned if our governments were the first one to walk down this road, but that’s not the case. CCAs have been around since 2002, and there are 18 of them in California. What kinks there are in the concept seem to have been worked out.

The greatest attraction is the local control. A board that likely would be composed of county supervisors and city councilors would set prices. Those prices almost certainly would be lower that what we currently pay as the power would be bought from an open and competitive marketplace.

And those savings could be allocated a number of ways. Poor people could get a break. Businesses could be offered a break in exchange for locating in the county. Rates could be structured to meet the needs of industries like agriculture. And the decisions would be made here, for our benefit, rather than in the PG&E boardroom in San Francisco.

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