San Diego community energy program gets official certification

San Diego Union-Tribune

It was largely a formality, but the California Public Utilities Commission has officially certified San Diego Community Power, the five-city community choice aggregation program that plans to launch next year as an alternative to San Diego Gas & Electric when it comes to purchasing power for customers in San Diego, Chula Vista, La Mesa, Imperial Beach and Encinitas.

“We kind of expected it because we’ve had third parties look at our implementation plan and all of our documents,” said Joe Mosca, an Encinitas City Council memberand the chair for San Diego Community Power, known as SDCP for short. “Even though it was expected, we certainly feel good about this first step and I think it bodes well for all the other steps that we have coming up.”

Under the community choice aggregation, or CCA, model, local governments can form entities that assume an important function that had always been reserved for investor-owned utilities — what sources of power to buy. SDCP anticipates offering a default program consisting of 50 to 60 percent renewable energy sources at rates 2 percent to 4 percent cheaper than San Diego Gas & Electric.

SDCP’s customer base in the five cities is expected to come to 920,000, which would make it the second-largest CCA in the state.

Last month, SDCP’s board members — made up of one city council member from each of the five cities — unanimously voted to approve a three-year, $1.15 million contract with Pacific Energy Advisors, a Folsom-based consulting group, to advise the board on wholesale power services that include energy planning, purchasing, risk management and rate design.

Pacific Energy Advisors “is really well-respected” among California CCAs, Mosca said. The firm’s website counts at least nine community choice energy programs as clients, including Marin Clean Energythat launched in 2010 as the first CCA in the Golden State.

SDCP is also moving forward to recruit a CEO. Mosca said he expects the names of three or four candidates will be submitted to the board by the latter part of May or early June. He did not disclose the salary range. “We will offer competitive salary and benefits and so we’re expecting a really positive response,” Mosca said.

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