Santa Barbara County Supervisors Vote to Join Monterey Bay Community Choice Energy Program | Local News

Instead of going it alone, Santa Barbara County has decided to join an existing community choice energy program — the Monterey Bay Community Power joint powers authority.

The Board of Supervisors supported the plan in July, and on Tuesday, it voted 4-1 to adopt the ordinance implementing a community choice energy program through participation in the Monterey Bay Community Power program and to approve a resolution requesting membership in that joint powers authority. Supervisor Peter Adam dissented.

Community choice energy programs, or CCEs, give jurisdictions more control over the sources of electricity (such as renewable solar and wind power), but with existing providers — Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison for Santa Barbara County — delivering power and billing customers, as they currently do.

“The CCE program could offer cleaner energy than what is provided by Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison at competitive rates,” according to a July report from the county’s Community Services Department.

There is less financial risk to join an existing CCE program, according to county staff, although local control may be diluted by joining a group with more members.

Past studies looked at creating a new CCE joint power authority or joining an existing one, and the supervisors decided to join Monterey Bay Community Power for unincorporated areas only.

Some cities within Santa Barbara County are pursuing their own CCE programs — such as Santa Barbara — or have considered also joining the Monterey Bay Community Power program, such as Guadalupe and Santa Maria.

The Monterey Bay Community Power program includes Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties, 16 cities within that area, and Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo.

Santa Barbara County has spent $577,000 studying the idea of joining or creating a CCE program, and there is another $1 million earmarked for future CCE-related expenditures in the Sustainability Division of the Community Services Department.

The July presentation to the Board of Supervisors estimated that the program would start in 2021.

— Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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