City Council approves Green Energy Rate

by Richard Lieberman

During a recent Ventura City Council meeting the council voted unanimously to adopt a provision that will increase your electric bill by 7-9%. The council approved a measure that will put Ventura at the forefront of a measure that will require 100% of Ventura’s electricity be sourced with renewable energy.

In recent years alternative energy providers have emerged shaking up an industry that traditional had no competition.

Last February the Ventura City Council voted to join the Clean Power Alliance. The alliance offers community choice aggregation, which works by allowing cities and counties to buy and invest in renewable energy.

Once it is up and running the, the alliance will be the state’s biggest community choice aggregation provider in terms of members.

Ventura, Camarillo, Moorpark Ojai, Oxnard, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and the county have all joined along with Los Angeles County, which gave the alliance a $10 million loan to help with startup cost, and 23 other cities in L.A. County.

Although actual costs are still unknown and will not be fully known until November, cities must set a default rate which is the percentage of renewable energy customers who do nothing are automatically enrolled in.

Electric utility customers who want to stay with Edison or who want a different percentage of renewables can do so, but they must manually opt out or change their default. The change can be accomplished on-line, or by mail. The options that will face Ventura Southern California Edison customers contains three tiers: 36 percent renewables, 50% renewables and 100% renewables.

The alliance predicts savings of from 1-3% for 36% renewables, no change in cost if 50% is selected, and a 7-9% premium cost for opting 100% renewables.

City staff had recommended to the council that Ventura go with the 50% renewable tier, but after several public speakers advanced the 100% alternative as the best, smartest way to face a future of global warming, sea level rise and continuing drought, as an effective way of reducing the city’s carbon footprint the council agreed.

Currently the alliance is projecting savings on Edison base rate in the 36% tier of about 3 percent, 1% or less for the 50% tier and addition costs of up to 9% for the now approved goal of 100% renewables.

Camarillo, Moorpark and Simi Valley have set their rates at the 50% level, while Ojai and the county set their rates at 100% renewables. Oxnard has yet to set a default.

Clean Power Alliance Executive Director Ted Bardacke said he anticipates those rate differentials holding true even with a significant decision made by the California Public Utilities Commission.

The commission voted unanimously to change the way “exit fees” are calculated on community choice aggregation customers who leave investor owned utilities (like Edison). The fees are charged to ensure every customer, whether they are served by a community choice aggregation or an investor owned utility pays for power already purchased on their behalf.

PUC commissioners felt the new exit fees more fairly spread the costs between investor-owned utility customers and community choice customers.

Last year 32 percent of Edison’s energy came from renewable sources, according to Edison also offers customers the option to increase that percentage of renewable energy to 50 and 100 percent at additional cost.

The council also considered and approved to continue with plans for a new parking garage in downtown and the city is soon reviewing architectural plans and drawings.

The council also released Thomas Fire new construction permit numbers and they now stand at 82 permits issued, with more forthcoming.

Council passes a contract for temporary generator rental which will include ten generator rentals for emergency power.

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