Momentum for Community Choice energy has only been building during the months-long fight against Assembly Bill 2145—nicknamed the “Utility Monopoly Protection Act”—that which would have put up major roadblocks to the implementation of Community Choice programs in California (see “AB 2145, renewable energy wrecking ball: down but not out”). AB 2145 failed to make it to the Senate floor for a vote before the state legislature adjourned on August 31st, and is now dead. With that hurdle cleared, clean-energy advocates throughout the state are energized and re-focusing on local initiatives to create or improve Community Choice energy programs from Sonoma to San Diego and everywhere in between.
In the Bay Area in particular, there has been a groundswell of movement on Community Choice. The cities of Benicia, El Cerrito, and San Pablo, as well as Napa County, have all expressed interest in joining Marin Clean Energy. Officials from Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, along with the cities within those counties, are exploring options for creating their own Community Choice programs. Alameda County has taken a leadership role in creating an East Bay clean power program—and officials in Contra Costa County are warming up to the idea. The Bay Chapter has been actively engaged in the East Bay efforts to develop a Community Choice program, convening monthly organizing meetings with likeminded organizations and activists who want to democratize and transition our energy system to 100% renewable electricity.
On June 3rd, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to allocate $1.3 million for the study and formation of a Community Choice energy program. The county’s Community Development Agency put forward a timeline of 18 months for a feasibility study for the program, followed by another 18-month period for prepping for program launch and implementation.
One of the largest components of the feasibility study is an analysis of the energy-load data from 1.55 million county residents and establishing a plan for serving the county’s energy needs. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors has jurisdiction over the unincorporated portions of the county, which represents only 10 percent of the county’s energy load. In order for the feasibility study to be as robust and accurate as possible, individual cities within the county will also have to proactively opt-in for their load data to be included in the study; the Sierra Club and its partners are advocating for these cities to do so.
Other important components of the first 18-month period include setting up a community advisory board for the program and engaging in community outreach so that residents throughout Alameda County are informed and involved in the transformation and localization of our energy system. The extent of Contra Costa County’s participation in this program or in a separate Community Choice effort remains to be seen.
If you live in Alameda County, contact your city manager to ensure your city is included in the Community Choice feasibility study.
If you live in Contra Costa County, call your supervisors and let them know you are supportive of Community Choice! Find your supervisor’s contact information here.