SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica submitted a protest letter Thursday, December 21 petitioning the California Public Utilities Commission to approve the city’s attempts to launch a renewable energy service in 2018.
The Santa Monica City Council voted to join the Los Angeles Community Choice Energy program at its December 5 meeting. Joining the program would give Santa Monica, the authority to offer electricity source from 100 percent renewable sources to its residents, as opposed to Southern California Edison’s current maximum of 30 percent.
On December 8, the California Public Utilities Commision released a draft resolution that would limit the power local governments have to provide independent energy services. Petitioners have until December 29 to submit comments to the Commission on the issue. A final vote will be held on January 11, 2018. If approved, the resolution could prevent local governments from creating and implementing Community Choice Aggregation programs such as the Los Angeles Community Choice Energy initiative by up to two years. Members of the Santa Monica government have publicly opposed the resolution.
A CCA, or Community Choice Aggregation, is an organization that works directly with residents and businesses to maintain electrical services. As a result, most can produce more renewable energy and are under limited oversight from the CPUC. Because the CPUC’s draft resolution affects these CCAs, and LACCE is a CCA, Santa Monica’s ability to control its own renewable electricity would be hampered.
The city has joined with other California cities that are working with their own local CCAs and are affected by the draft resolution.
“The CPUC’s draft resolution, released for public comment over the holidays, appears to be a stealth attempt by investor-owned utilities to freeze new local Community Choice programs, including ours, for at least a year,” said Councilmember and LACCE Board Director Kevin McKeown. “Santa Monica will oppose this, fighting for cleaner and cheaper electricity for our residents and businesses by all means possible. We call on our state legislators in Sacramento to join us in demanding the CPUC pull this regressive item off its January agenda.”
The draft resolution comes at a time where 80 percent of the state’s total electrical output is potentially opting to join local CCAs, weakening the CPUC’s power.
If the protest letter successfully deters the CPUC, Santa Monica will have much greater access to renewable energies, as well as more control over its own electricity. The CPUC is currently going through a formal proceeding on the issue.
The city council’s protest letter can be found at: https://www.santamonica.gov/Media/Default/CMO/CPUC%20Draft%20Reso%20E-4097%20Picker.pdf.
Written By Dylan Gera and George Morris