I remember reading an article by Will Houston of the Times-Standard a couple of weeks ago about the Supervisor’s warm welcome to a presentation on Community Choice Aggregation. It seemed great a win-win. However … the other shoe drops …
From today’s Times-Standard (highlights mine)…
Community Choice Aggregation? Not so fast
Humboldt County recently heard a presentation about an alternative method of supplying our energy needs called Community Choice Aggregation. By “aggregating” consumer buying power, CCAs can negotiate on the wholesale power market to obtain better prices and a higher percentage of renewables than offered by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., while creating a stable, long term power supply system that remains under local control rather than being operated for the benefit of long distance investors. Furthermore, if several local government entities collaborate under a joint powers authority to create a CCA, potential liabilities are backed entirely by anticipated revenues, with zero risk to the general fund.
This proven-successful model is not what is being currently proposed. Instead, a private for-profit company is offering a “turnkey” operation by which they would pay upfront costs and guarantee minor savings to ratepayers and a more substantial payment to county government in exchange for future profits, none of which will necessarily be devoted to accumulating reserves, developing local renewable power sources, or financing energy efficiency.
Troubling questions arise about legality, public oversight and transparency, meager greenhouse gas reduction targets, high pressure sales tactics, failure to consider a range of alternatives, and — above all — unacceptable levels of risk to local government.
The county would be wise to take a long careful look at all the possibilities — before handing over millions of dollars of ratepayer money. For a more detailed discussion of these issues, please visit sierraclub.org/redwood .
— Victoria Brandon, chairwoman, Sierra Club Redwood Chapter, Lower Lake
Here is a link to Mr. Houston’s article. I misread it the first time around. I originally missed this important, but subtle, point in the article …
The representatives from California Clean Power attended the board meeting to pitch a different approach to forming a CCA in which the county would enter a five- or 10-year contract with the organization.
So to answer Victoria Brandon’s rhetorical question, no, California Clean Power is not a CCA and we the voters have to understand this.
However Supervisor Virginia Bass (D – 4th) and Supervisor Estelle Fennell (D – 2nd) don’t seem initially cognizant of the difference the Sierra Club representative is underscoring. Here are their takes from the article.
After hearing the presentation, several board members said this “turn-key,” zero-cost approach seemed “too good to be true” though most expressed interest.
“There is a cost that we’re not necessarily seeing,” 4th District Supervisor Virginia Bass said.
“What’s taken out of our hands is the running of the program, What’s not taken out of our hands is the decision making.”
– 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennell
We will see this over and over because it is true. The Democratic leadership is not leading from a position left of center. The constituents of and voting base of 2/3rds of the Democrats on the Board are in reality coming from a vehemently anti-government wing of the conservative/libertarian movement. They of course cannot say this in a county that votes Democrats margins of 25%, but we will keep seeing this on issue after issue, supervisorial vote after vote.
I think Supervisor Fennell’s quote is especially telling. She doesn’t mind if the keys of what should be a public function are handed over to private industry. As long as the public sector gets to make the decisions.
Supervisor Fennell, if I may, some things the private sector does well and somethings the public sector is meant to run. Two local jobs that immediately come to mind that the public sector does better, specifically because their interests are greater than simply the short term financial bottom line are utilities and land use planning.
Thank you Victoria Brandon of Lower Lake’s Sierra Club Chapter for watching out and taking the time to write this.
Here is the full blog post. Give it a read and maybe click on that donate button they have on the right.
From the post, here is the bottom line financially …
After paying operational costs of $300,000, covering a $750,000 rate reduction, and making a “guaranteed” payment of $2 million to the county general fund, almost $3 million will be left — money that will enrich outside investors instead of staying within the CCA for the benefit of local consumers.