Through the efforts of SLO Clean Energy, the Sierra Club and concerned citizens who wrote letters and spoke at public meetings, San Luis Obispo County joined forces with Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties to create Central Coast Power, a consortium of governments formed to explore the feasibility of a Community Choice Energy program for the Central Coast. Community choice is a growing movement in California, which now has four operational CCAs, eight that will launch this year, and 19 more, like ours, in the exploration phase. Ecologistics recently caught up with Chris Read, Senior Energy Program Coordinator for SLO County, for an update on the progress of Central Coast Power. Chris serves as SLO County’s representative on Central Coast Power’s Advisory Working Group.
Chris reports the process, which began in December 2015, is well underway. A consultant has been retained and has gathered the data necessary to do the study. The Advisory Working Group has been meeting monthly while waiting for an important set of numbers to be crunched, the electricity load data for each of the 27 jurisdictions participating in the study. “This load data shows the average daily usage for each month in kilowatt hours for each community,” Chris explained. “The consultant needs this information to understand how much energy will need to be purchased at different times throughout the year.” Once the Advisory Working Group has those figures, they will be able to calculate how much it would cost residents and businesses if community choice was put into place. “If the figure is competitive with what the incumbent utility charges, that will indicate that community choice is feasible,” said Chris. Other issues to be looked at in the feasibility study are upfront capital and operating requirements, rate and bill impacts, revenue generation potential and GHG impacts.
The draft feasibility study will be made public in late spring or early summer, and Chris is hoping for a summer date to bring it back to the SLO County Board of Supervisors. “If the numbers look good,” said Chris, “the Board could direct us to go forward.” Chris mentioned that the City of San Luis Obispo is also working on another feasibility study in partnership with the County. “We are looking at several different scenarios and combinations of community participation so that all bases are covered.” For more information, go to www.centralcoastpower.org.