San Diego

Mayor Endorses Energy Choices for San Diego Ratepayers

More energy options for San Diego ratepayers could soon be available if Mayor Kevin Faulconer's proposal for a community choice program moves forward. 

The mayor announced his proposal on Thursday, and touted the push towards a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) plan as a pathway to clean energy by 2035.

San Diego Gas & Electric currently provides all energy sources in the city of San Diego but CCA would offer San Diegans alternative utility options. 

CCA would essentially allow for smaller public-owned utilities to take over the buying power of private utility companies -- SDG&E in San Diego's case -- on behalf of consumers. SDG&E would continue to operate power lines.

Solana Beach is currently the only city within SDG&E's service territory to operate under CCA, which began this year, though San Diego and other cities have been considering the move for years. 

Proponents say the move allows for fewer monopolies and cheaper energy costs for consumers as well as providing more opportunity for renewable energy sources. 

Matthew Vasiliki, with Climate Action Campaign, said 19 CCAs across the state have already proven the idea.

"All of them are more affordable than the monopoly utilities so it's a really important way for us to bring real relief to ratepayers right now, especially in San Diego right now where we have such ridiculous rates."

NBC 7's media partner, Voice of San Diego, conducted a fact check of similar claims made in 2015 and determined a CCA does allow for lower prices for ratepayers and more renewable sources. 

The move to CCAs would be a huge step towards completing Mayor Faulconer's Climate Action Plan, advocates say, which set a goal in 2015 for San Diego to become a city that relies 100 percent on renewable energy sources by 2035.

But opponents like the Clear the Air Coalition, which includes members of SDG&E, argue creating CCAs are not necessary since functioning systems that offer renewable sources already exist.

They also argue that it won't tackle the biggest greenhouse gas emission offenders and say it would create government bureaucracy that could negatively affect taxpayers.

SDG&E said in a statement released Thursday that it would continue to work with the city during the transition to CCA, if it moves forward. 

"SDG&E respects the City of San Diego’s right to create a procurement program that best fits its needs. SDG&E has a long history of partnership with the City, and is committed to continuing a productive, cooperative relationship. As the City charts this new course for purchasing electricity, SDG&E will help enable the transition," the statement read. 

Exact numbers on what bills may look like under this new program are not yet known, but if the proposal is passed, consumers will be automatically opted into CCA and have a choice to opt out.

Climate Action Campaign organizers said if the mayor's proposal is approved, it could still take at least two years for a viable plan to be put in place and for other energy sources to be available for consumers. 

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