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Choice and real change 

Central Coast Community Energy is committed to achieving 100 percent clean, renewable electricity generation

A letter from Mr. Mark Henry in the March 30 New Times ("Community Choice Energy is a scam") reflects genuine environmental concerns, but also some common misunderstandings about Central Coast Community Energy's mission and strategy for achieving 100 percent clean and renewable electricity generation by 2030. This is 15 years ahead of the state's goal. We would like the opportunity to set the record straight.

Central Coast Community Energy (3CE) shares the writer's concern about the production of greenhouse gas emissions in the Western grid. When he states that, "Purchasing power from existing clean energy sources does not increase clean energy capacity," we could not agree more. That is why 3CE's board of directors in 2020 made the decision to stop purchasing renewable energy certificates, or RECs, from existing sources like out-of-state hydro, and to focus instead on funding new renewable energy projects to bring more clean power onto the grid.

Making real environmental change—instead of just looking clean on paper—is central to 3CE's approach to community energy. The agency has invested more than $2 billion in 19 long-term contracts for new-build, renewable generation projects—solar, wind, storage, and geothermal. It comes to 900 MW (megawatts) of clean power and 400 MW of new renewable storage and includes the first new geothermal project in California in 30 years.

The writer is also concerned about the stability of our rates. 3CE holds the equivalent of 50 percent of our operating expenses in reserve, so that the money is there, if needed, to protect our customers from the volatility of the energy market. It's also important to know that 3CE is a nonprofit. It is able to offer significantly low rates because its rates are based on the actual cost of service to customers. 3CE's rates are set by local officials on the policy board in public meetings, so that customers and the community can participate and share their opinions and experiences. Members of the public should know that 3CE is their agency. The founding concept behind 3CE and other community choice energy agencies is that the people should have the opportunity to exert local control over the energy they use and have the option to choose green energy to help combat climate change.

Hopefully, these clarifications show how 3CE and the writer of the New Times letter agree in several ways when it comes to the importance of meeting environmental goals and providing reliable, sustainable energy service at fair and competitive rates. As the SLO County Board of Supervisors' recent decision to allow our county to join 3CE acknowledges, our quality of life and the sustainability of our communities is the shared responsibility of all of us here on the Central Coast. 3CE offers customers real choice and real environmental change. For more detailed information, go to 3cenergy.org. Δ

Jan Howell Marx is a SLO City Council member who also represents the cities of San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay on the 3CE Policy Board. Write a response for publication by sending it to [email protected].

Readers Poll

Do you support the local fishermen's decision to sue over wind farms? 

  • Yes! Wind farms have too many environmental impacts.
  • No—we need this wind farm on the Central Coast.
  • Not sure. We need both the fishing industry and renewable energy.
  • What's a wind farm?

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