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TYLER BODEN, San Clemente

Having worked as a project developer in the photovoltaic solar industry over the past seven years, I have consulted with thousands of people who are contemplating solar and energy storage installation projects.

Through all these interactions, I have noticed that there are two main motivators for installing solar today: (1) financial benefits—energy cost savings, tax credits and home value increases; and (2) energy independence—a sense of sovereignty from the electric grid and the potential for resiliency during blackouts.

These same motivators are driving cities across California to pursue a locally controlled option for procuring power on behalf of their residents and businesses.

Given the ever-decreasing cost of solar and other renewables (particularly at the utility scale), over 200 communities across California have formed Community Choice Energy (CCE) entities, offering their residents an alternative to the incumbent utility (SDG&E, SCE, or PG&E).

These locally controlled entities, called Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs), allow ratepayers a competitive choice in their utility provider (which has proven to cost about 2% less than the incumbent utility), as well as the ability to choose a more renewable mix of power.

In North San Diego County, for example, the cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar, and Solana Beach have joined together to form a CCA called Clean Energy Alliance, which is set to launch next month.

This Joint Powers Authority will purchase power on behalf of ratepayers, then utilize SDG&E’s transmission lines to deliver the energy. Because cities are not-for-profit, unlike SDG&E, net revenues generated from the sale of power will get redistributed to ratepayers in the form of bill savings or local programs that benefit residents and the local electric grid.

SDG&E still plays a role in this, as it will maintain the electric lines and process billing, but the more a community energy provider can incentivize residents and businesses to produce and store power locally, the more they’ll become sovereign from the incumbent utility.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the CCA model for procuring power is the future of California’s electric grid. San Clemente is well-positioned with several good options to pursue this—including joining Clean Energy Alliance, or the newly formed Orange County Power Authority based in Irvine, or even going it alone and forming a CCA of our own.

It’s time for San Clemente to jump on the boat for energy savings, resiliency, and local control. The future is now.

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