New Times / Commentary
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 23, Issue 22
Messages to the new board, part five: Let's get energized
By THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE SIERRA CLUB SANTA LUCIA CHAPTER
Editor’s note: This is the fifth of five monthly Sierra Club commentaries devoted to policy recommendations for the incoming County Board of Supervisors.
California communities are seeking to implement Community Choice Aggregation in ways that will significantly exceed the goals of California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard. San Francisco plans to realize 360 megawatts from energy efficiency, solar and wind energy, and small-scale renewables by 2012, revving up its CCA program with innovative “H Bonds,” to be repaid based on revenues from monthly electric bills. Marin County is aiming for 100 percent renewable power. Allowing customers to generate their own power (with local solar arrays, small wind turbines, and fuel cells) would substantially contribute to a statewide reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions.
Certainly, every CCA established means power ceded by the state’s giant private utilities to another entity, and the utilities are not shy about protecting their turf. PG&E has aggressively opposed CCA implementation by San Francisco, Marin, and the San Joaquin Valley Power Authority (prompting a settlement at the Public Utilities Commission requiring PG&E to revise and disclose its marketing conduct), and has already spoken against Community Choice in San Luis Obispo in local government forums. It can be expected that PG&E will mount a full-scale public relations campaign against CCA here when an implementation plan is underway. The utility’s tactics—warn customers that fees to leave the utility will be high, that the savings on monthly bills will be low, that the utility is undertaking energy conservation programs so there is no need for a CCA— will be deployed to persuade residential and business customers to “opt out” of Community Choice and undermine implementation.
PG&E’s ground offensive here will be intense, and the county must be prepared to counter those efforts with the facts about CCA, enlisting the aid of local social and environmental nonprofits to help disseminate information on CCA to ratepayers. Those alliances should be made soon, as PG&E will move to co-opt those organizations in advance of CCA implementation.
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