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SDG&E - Community Choice Decision Postponed


Last updated 1/6/2017 at 7:54am

San Diego Gas & Electric's plan to lobby on the alternative energy program called community choice aggregation has been suspended. Under state law, the utility is prohibited from lobbying or marketing on community choice unless it forms an independent district that's funded by shareholders, not ratepayers.

Right now, San Diego Gas & Electric provides power through its system of lines and wires to every city in San Diego County and southern Orange County. SDG&E buys the electricity from a variety of sources, including natural gas plants, hydroelectric dams and wind turbine farms.

If a city goes with community choice aggregation, power would still go through SDG&E’s grid, but the city would buy the energy, not the utility. That allows cities to have more control over how much of their energy comes from renewable sources and the cost for that electricity.

The current system is designed to make profits for the utility and its shareholders. Under the CCA model, a local non-profit government might have to develop its own alternative mechanisms for buying energy and selling it to ratepayers. Some might question how effective a local government would be in managing those activities, and how large a new bureaucracy would be in order to do it. There are also questions about what local politicians would do with any profits generated by a CAA.

In a letter dated Dec. 27, the state commission stated that SDG&E is not following all of its directions.

The letter does not say what will happen next for SDG&E's independent district, and representatives from the CPUC were not available for comment. Allison Torres, a spokeswoman for SDG&E, said the utility would provide more information to the CPUC this month.

"While SDG&E believes the advice letter and compliance plan provided enough detail, the commission is asking for more information," Torres said, "We plan to file an advice letter in January."

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