COM­ING SOON: LOOK, NO CAR­BON

The Tribune (SLO) - - Front Page - BY NICK WIL­SON

San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay, by 2020, aim to pro­vide car­bon-free en­ergy to power homes and ap­pli­ances.

By 2020, the cities of San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay will be pro­vid­ing car­bon-free en­ergy to power homes, ap­pli­ances and more.

That’s be­cause the cities have joined with a Mon­terey-based pro­gram that pro­vides com­mu­nity choice en­ergy.

On Wed­nes­day, San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay joined Mon­terey Bay Com­mu­nity Power’s com­mu­nity choice en­ergy (CCE) pro­gram fol­low­ing a unan­i­mous vote by the Mon­terey pro­gram’s board.

The pro­gram will kick in lo­cally in Jan­uary 2020. Lo­cal con­sumers can then start pow­er­ing their prop­er­ties with en­ergy from sources in­clud­ing wind, so­lar and wa­ter, which will be pur­chased through the pro­gram.

The cost of the pro­gram will be the same for cus­tomers as what they’re charged by PG&E, ac­cord­ing to the pro­gram’s web­site. The en­ergy will come en­tirely from car­bon-free sources, with a min­i­mum 3 per­cent re­bate on the De­cem­ber bill, the web­site said.

Elec­tric­ity will still be pow­ered through PG&E’s in­fra­struc­ture, even through it’s com­ing from the CCE pro­gram. Cus­tomers have the op­tion to opt out from CCE and use PG&E ser­vices, as cus­tomers do un­der the ex­ist­ing ser­vice. And com­mu­nity choice en­ergy will still be in­cluded on cus­tomers’ PG&E bills.

“I’m re­ally ex­cited to have this op­tion of car­bon-free elec­tric­ity,” said Chris Read, San Luis Obispo’s sus­tain­abil­ity man­ager. “The car­bon­free elec­tric­ity pro­vided by Mon­terey Bay Com­mu­nity Power (MBCP) al­lows us to achieve our 2020 green­house gas re­duc­tion tar­gets and will be the foun­da­tion for our path to car­bon neu­tral­ity.”

Read said the move is a big step for­ward to help the city achieve its am­bi­tious goal of be­ing car­bon neu­tral by 2035, 10 years ear­lier than Cal­i­for­nia’s statewide goal.

Car­bon neu­tral­ity, or net-zero en­ergy, refers to the con­cept of re­duc­ing as much car­bon diox­ide and other green­house gases from the at­mos­phere as pos­si­ble, with the over­all goal of achiev­ing a zero car­bon foot­print.

“The city of Morro Bay is ex­cited to join Mon­terey Bay Com­mu­nity Power, a proven com­mu­nity choice en­ergy pro­gram, to bring af­ford­able, greener and cleaner en­ergy to our com­mu­nity,” Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons said in an MBCP press re­lease.

The part­ner­ship adds 29,000 new cus­tomers to MBCP’s base, now to­tal­ing more than 300,000 cus­tomers and re­duces 25,000 met­ric tons of green­house gas emis­sions, ac­cord­ing to the MBCP press re­lease.

The an­tic­i­pated in­crease of elec­tric ve­hi­cle use will also con­trib­ute to re­duc­ing green­house gases, Read said.

Twenty-one Cal­i­for­nia cities and county gov­ern­ment agen­cies, in­clud­ing Santa Cruz, Mon­terey and San Ben­ito county gov­ern­ment agen­cies, now make up the Mon­terey Bay Com­mu­nity Power part­ner­ship.

Through­out Cal­i­for­nia, 19 dif­fer­ent com­mu­nity choice en­ergy pro­grams are op­er­at­ing, serv­ing 8 mil­lion cus­tomers statewide, ac­cord­ing to a MBCP press re­lease. They are also known as com­mu­nity choice ag­gre­ga­tors.

The ma­jor­ity of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Su­per­vi­sors opted not to pur­sue com­mu­nity choice en­ergy in Jan­uary, New Times re­ported then.

San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay will share a seat on the Mon­terey-based pro­gram’s pol­icy board, made up of elec­tion of­fi­cials, and op­er­a­tions board, com­posed of city man­agers. The cities will also share a po­si­tion on a ci­ti­zens ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee.

San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay had con­sid­ered part­ner­ing to form their own CCE, but a re­cent Cal­i­for­nia Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion rul­ing changed a fee on CCE cus­tomers that would make a small, new pro­gram too costly, Read said.

“It’s a very com­pli­cated fee for­mula, but it makes it much less sta­ble for new, smaller pro­grams with a lim­ited cash flow than it does for larger pro­grams that are al­ready es­tab­lished,” Read said.

“The CCE pro­gram will be­come the cities’ pri­mary provider of elec­tric­ity, lead­ing to re­duced green­house gas emis­sions, in­vest­ments in re­new­able en­ergy projects and en­ergy pro­grams, and lower elec­tric­ity rates for con­sumers,” the city of San Luis Obispo said in a news re­lease.

SanLuisObispo

San Luis Obispo nat­u­ral re­sources man­ager Bob Hill, Mayor Heidi Har­mon and sus­tain­abil­ity man­ager Chris Read pose for a pic­ture near an elec­tric ve­hi­cle charg­ing sta­tion. The city has a goal of be­com­ing car­bon neu­tral by 2035.

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