Community Choice Movement
A powerful new tool is helping communities across the Golden State enjoy cleaner electricity for rates competitive with and most often less expensive than existing utilities. This tool – Community Choice Energy – creates a new, non-profit energy provider that offers local residents and businesses options to have from 33% up to 100% of their electricity generated from clean, renewable sources like wind and solar power.
Marin County and Sonoma County pioneered the first Community Choice programs in California. Both programs offer electricity with more renewable energy and lower emissions than the incumbent utility, PG&E. Both programs have also delivered huge cost savings – putting more than $29.6 million back in the pockets of electricity bill payers over the past two years. Additionally, the revenues generated by these two programs are retained locally and are being reinvested to help develop local renewable energy projects – stimulating the economy and creating high-paying union jobs. Given the success of these two programs, two additional programs have launched over the past year in San Francisco and Lancaster. In total, there are no fewer than 60 communities across the state exploring Community Choice today.
Progress in Central Coast
Here in Santa Barbara County, we have made great strides towards forming a local program. Last June, after years of advocacy by the Community Environmental Council and our partners, Santa Barbara County approved and funded the essential first step: a feasibility study. Following Santa Barbara County’s leadership, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties and the cities therein have all since signed on to participate in this study. CEC expects this tri-county study to be completed in fall 2016. Based on the results from other communities and the continued emergence of programs across the state, we are extremely confident that the study results will be favorable.
Next Steps in Santa Barbara
To continue the County’s progress towards launching a local Community Choice Energy program, CEC is advocating that Santa Barbara County include funding for the program in their 2016/2017 budget. The decision of whether to do this will be deliberated on by County officials on Wednesday, June 15 and Friday, June 17. Allocating funding in these hearings would allow the County (if it chooses) to move quickly into the next steps of program formation without the months of bureaucratic delay that may happen if they wait until the study is completed in the fall to vote on funding.
You Can Take Action Now To Support Renewable Energy
Community Choice has the power to offer local residents and businesses clean energy at competitive rates and create new economic development and jobs by supporting a local clean energy system. The upcoming budget hearings are the best opportunity to continue progress towards clean energy for Santa Barbara County. Click here to take action today.