At its next meeting, the Morro Bay City Council will be presented with options for participating in a program that would allow it to buy alternative energy supplies for local customers, rather than PG&E’s mix of energy sources.
Peter Rumble, CEO of the Sonoma County-based company California Clean Power, will make a presentation on the program to the council on Sept. 8.
Rumble said in a phone interview this week that the switch to the program, called community choice aggregation, could save Morro Bay money and provide more options for using clean energy.
Community choice aggregation programs have been authorized in the state since 2003. Once formed, a city would determine the sources of energy, but would partner with the local utility — PG&E in this case — to provide electricity transmission, maintenance and billing.
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Currently, PG&E makes the decisions about which sources to use without community input. Rumble said Morro Bay would be able to set up its own energy consumption portfolio.
“If a community wants more clean and renewable energy sources, then it can make that a priority,” Rumble said. “… PG&E is a monopoly. Community choice also doesn’t have a substantial overhead and doesn’t have to turn a large profit like an investor-owned electric utility.”
All cities must meet a 33 percent baseline of renewable energy by 2020 under state guidelines. In 2014, 27 percent of PG&E’s electricity came from solar, wind and other renewable resources, “putting PG&E on track to meet California’s 33 percent goal by 2020,” the company said in a statement.
In April, the San Luis Obispo City Council passed a resolution in support of exploring a community choice aggregation program with other interested municipalities such as other cities and San Luis Obispo County.
California Clean Power is seeking to contract with Morro Bay to provide staff resources to assist the city with operating a new model. However, the company’s presentation will be the company’s first on the topic to the council.
“It’s a way to daylight this to the council,” said Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons. “From there, the council could put an item on the agenda to discuss this at another meeting or possibly send it to the public works advisory committee for consideration.”
Rumble approached Irons about the possibility of implementing a program, and the rest of the council will need to assess the potential program. Rumble said cities can possibly save up to 6 percent of their electricity costs, depending on how they arrange their portfolios.
“We could look at using that funding to pave our streets,” Irons said. “Maybe we could look at undergrounding our utilities. There are many variables and scenarios. We’d have to refine that and dial it in.”
California Clean Power said it’s able to save communities money by providing staffers who would work with multiple communities, minimizing overhead. The company, which formed earlier this year, hasn’t entered into formal agreements with any cities to date but has been in talks with multiple jurisdictions, Rumble said.