HUNTINGTON BEACH The City Council has taken a step toward claiming added control of its electric utilities, agreeing to examine data from Southern California Edison on the costs and usage of the utility’s power supply. That data will be used for a $25,000 report on the benefits and risks the city would face if it chose to buy its power on the open market.
The council voted 5-2 Monday night in favor of exploring a process known as community choice aggregation, or CCA, in which cities create their own utility and buy power on the open market. It is an increasingly popular method to potentially lower energy costs and increase the use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, advocates say.
Cities and counties across the state have adopted aggregation. And more are considering it, including Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Orange, Garden Grove, Tustin and Lake Forest, according to a city report. Nationally, as of 2014, 1,300 municipalities had aggregation agreements, according to renewableenergyworld.com.
The idea for studying aggregation was presented in a strategic planning workshop in January and brought to the council for a vote to launch a study.
At the time, Councilwoman Jill Hardy said she felt the proposal had been a bit rushed.
If the city adopted the process, Edison would continue to operate the power grid and maintain the infrastructure, but would no longer purchase the energy for those who chose the new utility, according to the city. Residents could choose if they want to remain with Edison.
To start the process, the city must acquire data from Edison to understand its current usage trends and sign a non-disclosure agreement to obtain the data, according to city officials.
Council members Lyn Semeta and Erik Peterson opposed going forward. Semeta said she wanted to wait until there was more information from other cities about their experiences, particularly with regard to customer savings.
“That’s what we were sold,” she said. “Now what I’m hearing is it may cost the same or more.”
Peterson said he had numerous concerns about being unable to hold to the non-disclosure agreement if public information requests force releasing Edison’s data.
He also said there hasn’t even been discussion about which consultants would write the report.