Broad Coalition Opposes California Energy Bill - Clean Coalition

Broad Coalition Opposes California Energy Bill

AB 2145 would dramatically change the rules for California’s Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs.

Craig Lewis

Sacramento, April 29, 2014 — Representatives of nearly one hundred environmental, business, local government, and consumer organizations have rapidly emerged in opposition to Assembly Bill 2145, which passed out of the California Assembly Utilities & Commerce Committee yesterday. Bill opponents assert that AB 2145, authored by Assembly member Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), would destroy community-based energy programs that accelerate the transition to clean energy and stimulate green jobs in California.

The bill would dramatically change the rules for California’s Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs. Under California law passed in 2002, Community Choice allows local governments to pool their electrical loads on an opt-out basis for the purpose of purchasing a higher percentage of clean energy resources than is currently offered by California’s monopoly investor owned utilities (IOUs) including PG&E, San Diego Gas &Electric, and Southern California Edison.

Shawn Marshall of LEAN Energy U.S. said, “AB 2145 would completely gut the ability of California communities to viably launch CCA programs that can compete on a level playing field with investor owned utilities. This bill is anti-consumer, anti-competition, and anti-environment.”

Current law allows local governments to form a not-for-profit public agency to buy and generate their own energy while partnering with the incumbent utility for the transmission and delivery of electricity over utility power lines. This allows communities to compete with the IOUs on the environmental value and price of the electricity itself, while continuing to pay for transmission, distribution and customer billing services as utility ratepayers. The state’s two active Community Choice programs, Marin County’s MCE Clean Energy, and Sonoma Clean Power, have already offered their customers a cleaner electricity mix at lower prices than currently offered by PG&E.

AB 2145 would make it much more difficult for communities to launch viable CCA programs by forcing customers to voluntarily sign up for their local CCA program. While this may sound good on the surface, opt in programs that rely on customer behavior have notoriously low participation rates, regardless of customer benefit or value. Under current law, communities can enroll their customers on an opt-out basis, thus retaining customer choice (customers can opt-out at any time), but also achieving the necessary financing and bulk purchasing power required to follow Marin and Sonoma’s lead and compete with much larger, monopoly utilities.

Ann Hancock, Executive Director of the Center for Climate Protection, the organization that helped launch Sonoma Clean Power, stated that “Community Choice is the most powerful solution local governments have to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This bill would steal that solution from cities and counties throughout the State.”

AB 2145 opponents include several local governments around the State; Sierra Club California; The Utility Reform Network; Bay Area, Santa Barbara and San Diego chapters; LEAN Energy U.S.; Local Clean Energy Alliance; the California Public Utility Commission’s Office of Ratepayer Advocates; the California State Association of Counties; the League of California Cities; Communities for a Better Environment; CLEAN Coalition; Retail Energy Supply Association; Alliance for Retail Energy Markets; Marin Clean Energy; Sonoma Clean Power; World Wildlife Fund US; and the California Solar Energy Industries Association.

Al Weinrub, coordinator of the Bay Area’s Local Clean Energy Alliance said, “There are emerging Community Choice programs all over California that have the potential to put thousands of people to work building local clean energy resources, and thereby enable us to shut down fossil fuel power plants that are polluting the air and lungs of our lowest income communities. AB 2145 would halt these clean energy programs dead in their tracks.”

Sierra Club’s Andrew Christie, who is working to establish a Community Choice program in San Luis Obispo County said, “If AB 2145 passes, community choice will be replaced with zero choice. There will be no chance of establishing local, public energy programs that would incentivize a local green energy economy.

Entities opposing AB 2145 (partial list as of 4/29/14):

350 Bay Area, San Diego and Santa Barbara chapters Alliance for Retail Energy Markets
Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Berkeley Community Choice Energy Group
Brad Wagenknecht, Napa County Supervisor, District 1
Braun Blaising McLaughlin & Smith P.C.
California Energy Storage Association
California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA)
CA State Association of Counties (CSAC)
Carbon Free Mountain View
City of Benicia
City of Cupertino
City of Lancaster
City of Menlo Park
City of Mountain View
City of Richmond
City of San Carlos
City of San Pablo
City of Santa Cruz
City of Sunnyvale
The Clean Coalition
Climate Protection Campaign
Communities for a Better Environment
Community environmental Council
County of Alameda
County of Los Angeles
County of Marin
County of San Diego
County of Santa Cruz
County of Sonoma
Douglass & Liddell, PC
Energy 2001, Inc.
Enlightenment Energy
Environmental Health Coalition (EHC)
Friends of San Diego Clean Energy
GenPower, Inc.
Greenlining Institute
Green Cities California
Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council
Joint Venture Monterey Bay
Kyoto USA
League of California Cities
Local Clean Energy Alliance
Local Energy Aggregation Network (LEAN Energy US)
Mainstreet Moms
Marin Clean Energy
Monterey Bay Community Power
Monterey Regional Waste Management District
Napa County Supervisor Wagenknecht
Office of Ratepayer Advocates (CPUC)
Our City San Francisco
OurEvolution Energy and Engineering
Pacific Energy Advisors
Panasonic Eco Solutions North America (PESNA)
Planet EcoSystems
Public Interest Coalition
Recolte Energy
Regional Climate Protection Authority
REP Energy Inc.
Resilient Neighborhoods
Retail Energy Suppliers Association
Richmond Progressive Alliance
Rifkind Law Group
Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority
San Diego Clean Energy
San Diego Energy District Foundation
San Francisco Clean Energy Advocates
San Francisco Green Party
San Luis Obispo Clean Energy
School Project for Utility Rate Reduction (SPURR)
Shell Energy North America
Sierra Club of California
Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)
SolEd Benefit Corporation
Sonoma Clean Power Authority
Sonoma County Water Agency
Sonoma County Transportation Authority
Sustainable Marin
Sustainable Napa County
Sustainable San Rafael and Novato
The Utility Reform Network (TURN)
Town of Fairfax
Transition US
West Coast Solar Energy
Western Power Trading Forum (WPTF)
World Wildlife Fund US

Craig Lewis

Founder and Executive Director

Craig has over 30 years of experience in the renewables, wireless, semiconductor, and banking industries. Previously VP of Government Relations at GreenVolts, he was the first to successfully navigate a solar project through California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard solicitation process. Craig was also the energy policy lead on Steve Westly’s 2006 California gubernatorial campaign, and his resume includes senior government relations, corporate development, and marketing positions at leading wireless, semiconductor, and banking companies such as Qualcomm, Ericsson, and Barclays Bank.