Green Power to the People

Santa Barbara Independent

California’s fight against climate change is getting ever more urgent as state lawmakers shorten deadlines for complete conversion to carbon-free electricity ​— ​prompting new solar and wind energy projects in the development pipeline. The City of Goleta is the latest to decide to buy all its power from carbon-free sources through an alliance formed in the county to our north: Monterey Bay Community Power. Newly named to Monterey’s 17-member Policy Board is Goleta Councilmember Kyle Richards, who praised the agency for basing decisions on the “greater good of the community” rather than shareholders.

“Instead of making a profit,” Richards said, “any ‘net revenues’ of this agency will be given back to the community in the form of rebates (lower rates) and/or incentive programs, such as electric vehicle charging stations, more residential solar, backup battery supplies to increase resiliency, et cetera.”

The competition envisioned in the 2002 law that established public power agencies is paying off generously. In its first 18 months of operation in Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito counties, Monterey Bay Community Power achieved an operating reserve of $100 million. It funded $15.5 million for electric vehicle charging stations and incentives, low-income solar installations, and other energy programs. From its reserve, $25 million will go to its Uninterruptible Power Supply Fund that provides low-cost loans for backup energy supplies to critical public facilities ​— ​schools, fire stations, and hospitals ​— ​that would otherwise be vulnerable to wildfire-related power shutoffs.

All this means 300,000 fewer metric tons of greenhouse gases spewed into the air.

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