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SLO Council Wants ‘Community Choice Energy’

San Luis Obispo City Council voted to move forward with the city participating in a “Community Choice Energy” or CCE Program, to further help residents and businesses combat climate change.

A CCE Program “could enable investments in new, renewable energy projects to reduce green house gas emissions,” reads a news release from the City.

The program is a new way for people to buy energy that comes from climate-friendly sources, like hydroelectric, solar and wind, through the City Administration.

How it works is, “The program allows local governments to leverage the purchasing power of their residents, businesses, and governments to buy or generate power for their communities. CCE providers buy electricity, which usually will include a higher percentage of electricity from renewable resources such as wind and solar, and set customers’ rates.”

For the customers there would be no difference in how they receive their electricity, it would still be delivered by PG&E through existing lines and tracked with existing meters, and payments would still go through PG&E too.

The CCE Program adds a middleman in the system and the CCE provider directs purchases of power from specific sources. With the program, “more options could become available including the ability to realize additional savings from the installation of roof-top solar,” according to the City.

City staff had presented the Council with three options: form its own CCE, join an existing CCE, or drop it all together. They chose to “move forward and pursue a local CCE, in conjunction with other local agencies.”

The City has taken part in two studies on the subject since 2015. The first looked at a program spanning SLO, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, but that was deemed unworkable because it would cross the territories of PG&E and Southern California Edison.

The second study involved a CCE Program intra-SLO County or just within the city. According to the staff report, that option requires more in-depth study and the Council budgeted some $25,000 in its current 2-year budget plan for that work.

“Should the analysis of this option show that it is infeasible or impractical, Council will consider joining an existing CCE Program, such as Monterey Bay Community Power,” according to the news release.

It should be noted that the goal of CCE Programs isn’t necessarily to provide less expensive energy, but to support and prop up demand for renewable, more climate-friendly energy production.

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