By JEFF CLEMETSON | La Mesa Courier
Starting in March, La Mesa’s municipal buildings will no longer be purchasing electricity from SDG&E. Instead, the municipal buildings will be customers of the newly formed San Diego Community Power — the power supplier that will serve La Mesa and four other regional cities as part of the Climate Action Plan to reduce dependence on fossil fuel-sourced energy.
At the Feb. 23 La Mesa City Council meeting, San Diego Community Power CEO Bill Carnahan and COO Cody Hooven gave a presentation on the new power supplier and what city businesses and residents can expect in the next months.
Carnahan said that the very first meeting of San Diego Community Power (SDCP) was held in October 2019.
“Since that period of time, we’ve been trying to stand up and create the functioning so we’d be in a position to start delivering the energy needs of our member systems as quickly as possible,” he said.
SDCP operates as a Joint Powers Authority between five member cities – Chula Vista, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, La Mesa and San Diego. Each city has a representative on the board of directors that oversees the enterprise. Council member Bill Baber represents La Mesa on the board.
“We’ve actually had some meetings with customers this month and it’s been awesome,” Baber said. “We put a lot of work in getting this far.”
SDCP has set an ambitious goal of reaching a 100% renewable energy portfolio by 2035. It also aims to offer competitive rates and prioritize local renewable energy sources. Because it is not a for-profit utility like SDG&E, it promises to make local job creation and investment a priority, Carnahan said.
Although the March launch will only include municipal buildings in the five member cities, commercial and industrial buildings will be phased in in June.
“This is where our heavy loads are — about 60% of our loads are in that category and about 10% of our customers,” Carnahan said. Residents will be added as early as January 2022.
Hooven reported that the board adopted rates in January. For its basic product — electricity with a 50% clean energy portfolio — SDCP power generation rates are about 6% lower on average than that of SDG&E, which results in an average of 2.7% less on the total bill, she said. SDCP also offers a service that provides 100% clean energy that is on average equal to what SDG&E customers pay currently for an energy portfolio that is only 31% renewables.
In public comments, resident Lindy Maholic stated that she is “grateful and proud” that La Mesa adopted a community power plan. She also said she is looking forward to attending SDCP board meetings; something she said was “unattainable” with SDG&E.
David Harris states he looks forward to seeing revenue from the community power being reinvested in La Mesa with local green jobs.
Council member Akilah Weber asked whether SDCP would offer assistance for low-income residents. Hoover said that SDCP will offer the same programs as SDG&E currently does at first but will be looking to expand assistance with more targeted localized programs, rather than just spreading the assistance dollars over large area.
For more information about San Diego Community Power, including rate information, visit www.sdcommunitypower.org.
— Reach editor Jeff Clemetson at firstname.lastname@example.org.