November 23, 2014

Bringing Community Choice energy to the East Bay

Efforts to establish an East Bay Community Choice energy program are heating up! The Sierra Club is working with groups in both Oakland and Berkeley who have big ambitions for educating elected officials, community organizations, and the public about the potential of Community Choice.

Community Choice energy allows cities, counties, or special districts such as water districts to establish public agencies to procure electricity for customers in their jurisdiction, as an alternative to PG&E.

The Clean Energy & Jobs Oakland campaign is sponsored by the Oakland Climate Action Coalition and organized by the Local Clean Energy Alliance. This grassroots effort got under way in mid-2012 doing community outreach. In 2012 the effort was primarily focused on building public and city-council support for the East Bay Municipal Utility District to take a lead role in organizing and implementing an East Bay Community Choice program. In December 2012, though, the EBMUD Board voted against taking on that role. Clean Energy & Jobs Oakland continues its outreach efforts, now focused on getting the Oakland City Council to take the lead in establishing an East Bay Community Choice program.

So far Clean Energy & Jobs Oakland has garnered the support of 27 community organizations, unions, and businesses. The Sierra Club’s Northern Alameda County Group was the first to sign on. The campaign has briefed all Oakland councilmembers, and expects to educate candidates and voters in this year’s city elections.

The Berkeley Community Choice working group is one of several working groups in the Berkeley Climate Action Coalition. Early outreach efforts focused on the Berkeley City Council, and resulted in a letter to EBMUD in support of its participation in forming a Community Choice Program.

Recently, the Berkeley campaign organized meetings with representatives of Alameda County supervisors and county agencies to determine if there is support for a county-level Community Choice plan. Results of these meetings suggest that Alameda County is interested in learning more about the potential for a Community Choice program.

The three-plus-years success of Marin Clean Energy (see Aug. 2012, page 5) and the impending launch of Sonoma Clean Power (see page 4) have demonstrated that Community Choice programs can operate in the black at rates competitive with PG&E.

Advocacy efforts in both Berkeley and Oakland envision a focus on development of local renewable resources, for both generation (rooftop solar panels and wind turbines) and energy-efficiency programs.

WhatYouCanDo

Come to a public forum sponsored by the Berkeley Community Choice working group on Tue., Feb. 18, 7 – 9 pm at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley. Find out more about the Berkeley Community Choice working group at http://ecologycenter.org/climatecoalition.

Clean Energy & Jobs Oakland is planning a forum for early April. Details will be available at www.localcleanenergy.org/policy-platform/campaign2012.

Both organizations also have speakers available to give presentations on Community Choice Energy, and both groups welcome new volunteers.

Contact Clean Energy & Jobs Oakland through Barbara Stebbins at bstebbins14@gmail.com or (510)527 1579.

Contact the Berkeley Community Choice working group through Tom Kelly at kyotousa@sbcglobal.net.

Barbara Stebbins

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