Proposed City of Long Beach Power Authority could accelerate port wind power development

American Journal of Transportation

The City of Long Beach is nearing a decision on adopting a power authority model that could reduce utility rates for residents and support new investment and jobs in renewable energy that accelerate the Port of Long Beach’s Clean Air Action Plan for zero emissions.

Clay Sandidge, the chair of the Long Beach Community Choice Energy (CCE) working group, represents a grass roots organization seeking CCA adaptation. The CCA is a legal entity established by California law.

The CCA allows a locality to make power purchase agreements with developers that avoid the higher dividend-based costs of investor utilities, such as Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric, who pass on these additional costs into utility rates paid by consumers.

By avoiding dividend costs, CCA’s reduce utility bills by 4% “on average” Sandidge says. The investor utility still distributes power and bills customers under the CCA system, but at a reduced rate and giving CCA’s the option to negotiate their own power agreements. This is creating new opportunities for renewable energy developers.

According to the California Community Choice Association: “Over the last decade, local governments in more than 200 towns, cities, and counties throughout the state have chosen to participate in CCA to meet climate action goals, provide residents and businesses with more energy options, ensure local transparency and accountability, and drive economic development. There are currently 21 operational CCA programs in California serving more than 10 million customers, and with many more in progress, those numbers are set to grow.”

Sandidge and Community Choice Energy (CCE), are urging the Long Beach City Council to file an application with the California Public Utilities Commission by the end of 2020.

Sandidge says that thirty-one cities in Southern California compose the Los Angeles Power Alliance. One option for Long Beach is to join the Alliance. The other is to set up its own independent CCA.

The Port of Long Beach and Los Angeles adopted their Clean Air Action Plan to transform port operations to zero emissions. Current emissions contribute to the high rate of asthma and respiratory cases that plague poorer neighborhoods in Long Beach, that are contingent to harbor trucking corridors such as the 710 freeway. This respiratory exposure to Long Beach residents can be reduced by the CCA supporting the Port’s Clean Air Action Plan goals and accelerating clean renewable power generation, he says.

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