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Community Choice Energy: Is it right for Borrego?


Last updated 11/14/2018 at 1:46pm

Community Choice (Energy) Aggregation, or CCA, is on the rise in California, with cities up and down the state opting for an alternative to “the only game in town,” namely their utility provider. The program requires that CCA be requested by elected officials, and it turns out we have them – the publicly elected BWD Board of Directors, plus a General Manager to oversee program set-up and details.

But given the complicated structure of our electrical (and gas) delivery system, is this program right for Borrego Springs? We have an election for 5th District County Supervisor coming up, so the Sun felt it was appropriate to ask the two candidates their position on the CCA issue.

After receiving responses from Jim Desmond and Michelle Gomez, the City of San Diego announced its participation in their own CCA program on Oct. 25. Over the coming months, we will be tuned in to and report on CCA developments here in Borrego and in San Diego.

Here are the responses from the two Supervisor candidates, Jim Desmond and Michelle Gomez:

Michelle Gomez:

For Borregans to consider joining a CCA is a wise choice. As individual ratepayers, energy consumers in Borrego Springs are forced to pay egregious electric bills just to maintain a suitable quality of life.

By joining a CCA, residents will enjoy the benefits of bulk rate power. Namely the savings of potentially hundreds of dollars off their monthly bill.

Over the last three years SDG&E’s rates, currently the highest in the nation, have risen at three times the price of inflation. While the energy giant has forwarded a possible solution in offering an off-peak price structure to Borregans during summer months, let’s not forget the often chilly evenings of December through March. A CCA offers year-round savings.

Families will be able to put that savings toward their children’s education, and those on fixed incomes can remain happy and healthy in this beautifully unique community.

Jim Desmond:

I am always willing to explore all options, so I would support a feasibility study of Community Choice Aggregation for utility service in the Borrego Springs region. Community Choice Aggregations (CCA’s) allow options for energy choice but are, at this point, not the panacea to reduce energy costs.

Currently, CCA’s are more about the type of energy purchased, clean vs dirty, than about lower energy prices. At times, clean energy may be the more expensive option. In a CCA, your County Supervisors could purchase and lock-in energy pricing on a preferred type of energy, but it would still need to be distributed via SDG&E transmission lines.

The current cost savings from CCA’s is due primarily to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) slow process of ensuring transmission costs are shared and not shifted. Because early CCA’s are not paying their full costs of transmission, the PUC is in the process of remedying that imbalance.

That is not to say that the CCA option may not be good for Borrego. I understand the burden on residents when energy costs rise with temperatures, so I would agree to a feasibility study to lessen the pain felt when you open your summer energy bills. A responsible study would look at all possibilities of lowering energy costs, including Solar, cost smoothing, and CCA’s.

As a desert community, Borrego Springs has a unique situation in San Diego County and should be looked at differently by SDG&E when determining energy rates.

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