A new energy future awaits 

click to enlarge A community-choice aggregation plan has been proposed for San Mateo County. Daly City and other cities in the county will consider whether to join the clean-energy program. Residents would have the ability to opt-out of the program. - COURTESY SMCGOV.ORG
  • Courtesy smcgov.org
  • A community-choice aggregation plan has been proposed for San Mateo County. Daly City and other cities in the county will consider whether to join the clean-energy program. Residents would have the ability to opt-out of the program.

Daly City recently took a small step forward to change the way in which our community will buy and consume electricity.

Our city recently volunteered to join a countywide study to evaluate the feasibility of forming a local community-choice aggregation agency, an effort led by San Mateo County supervisors Dave Pine and Carole Groom. A CCA, despite its bureaucratic name, is a simple but dynamic tool that will allow cities and counties to pool the purchasing power of residents and businesses to buy electricity. In short, a CCA would become the provider of electrical power rather than our local utility. Even though a CCA agency provides the energy, power delivery, grid maintenance, customer metering and billing, and customer-service functions remain with our existing utility.

For our communities, there are many potential advantages to forming a CCA. These include highly competitive and often cheaper electricity rates — new choices of what kind of power we buy, including electricity generated from clean sources. And that is the real long-term benefit of a CCA — offering clean-energy products directly to consumers. By offering a robust green-energy portfolio, a CCA will help communities reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and lower our carbon footprint while incentivizing the growth of renewable-power generation regionally and nationally. Such development can also spur local job production and, better still, local energy production that can continue to help reduce energy costs for consumers within a local CCA agency.

Operating a CCA agency does not require any public subsidy as it functions as a not-for-profit organization supported by revenues and is directly answerable to our community. Should Daly City join such a countywide CCA agency — and that remains an open question — residents will be automatically enrolled with the new agency as the provider of electrical power. Electric bills won't look much different though and any customer will be provided numerous opportunities to opt-out should they wish to and can return to the traditional utility. Gas service will remain with the utility company regardless.

There is a great deal of information available for those interested in learning more about CCAs, both in development and those operating already such as in Marin and Sonoma counties. For more information about the effort underway in San Mateo County visit the website of the county's Office of Sustainability: http://green.smcgov.org/ community-choice-aggregation.

The process to create a CCA agency in San Mateo County is now in its infancy and there are many steps ahead of us yet but this is an exciting endeavor that I hope Daly City will be a part of.

Mike Guingona is a Daly City city councilman.

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Mike Guingona

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