Ventura, California is no stranger to sustainability: its Chamber of Commerce has its own Green Task Force, the Ventura Green Business Program has nearly 100 certified businesses, and the City of Ventura has its own online sustainability hub. Santa Barbara gets most of the eco-credit for starting Earth Day and promoting environmentalism with its many nonprofit organizations, but Ventura County is taking its green leadership to the next level. In fact, Ventura has surpassed Santa Barbara in the implementation of a Community Choice Energy program, which will bring increased access to renewable energy to its residents.
A Review of Community Choice
In case you missed our last article about Community Choice, here is a basic overview of how it works:
In the Central Coast region, electricity is procured and distributed by investor-owned utilities like Southern California Edison or Pacific Gas and Electric. A Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program allows municipalities to form a separate, nonprofit entity called a Joint Powers Authority to procure electricity for its residents. The utility continues to deliver the energy.
Through a CCA, a community can elect to provide more renewables into its energy matrix at competitive rates. There are no investors or shareholders, so surplus funds can be delivered back into local energy projects like electric vehicle chargers, energy efficiency resources, or used to lower rates for its customers. Homes and businesses choose to opt into the CCA rate or can continue being served by their utility.
Ventura’s Community Choice Program
Ventura is has joined the Clean Power Alliance, the Community Choice entity that now serves 28 cities and unincorporated Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. The Clean Power Alliance has a board of directors that includes one elected official from every jurisdiction it serves. Both the City of Ventura and unincorporated County of Ventura will begin service with the Clean Power Alliance on February 1, 2019. They have chosen 100% renewable energy as the default rate for customers, but all customers are able to choose from three available rates:
The “Clean” rate is the most comparable to SCE’s rates in terms of price, but guarantees that 50% of the electricity generated comes from renewable sources. The “Lean” rate of 36% renewables is slightly cheaper than Edison’s average rates. Customers are also able to opt out of service from the Community Choice Aggregation and purchase their electricity from Southern California Edison. Conversely, they are welcome to opt back in at any time.
The Clean Power Alliance is required to provide transparency about the quantity and source of the energy it purchases, which will be released in annual reports. The CPA procures energy from solar, wind, geothermal, and some hydroelectric as well, all from within California or the western grid.
Community Choice and Solar Customers
If you have interconnected a solar electric system in Ventura, you are enrolled in a Net Energy Metering (NEM) agreement with SCE. This agreement allows you to retain credit for excess solar energy you send to the grid, and use that credit when you need to pull electricity from the grid at night. When you switch service to Clean Power Alliance you will enter a new NEM agreement with them, and SCE will either pay you for credit saved or bill you for excess electricity you used. CPA’s compensation rates for solar are 10% higher than SCE’s most recent rate. To learn more, visit CPA’s FAQ page.
While Ventura takes the lead on Community Choice this year, Santa Barbara is working to establish its own Joint Powers Authority and expects to implement a CCA program in 2021. We are excited to see more opportunities for residents to purchase renewable energy even if they can’t install solar panels on their own homes.