Date:May 26, 2014

California Cities Could Be Barred from Renewable Power Deals

Published 5/19/2014 in the San Jose Mercury News

This month, the White House released its National Climate Assessment, which outlines the threatJ Griffith 2014 Sunnyvale Mayor posed by climate change and makes the case for greater action towards environmental sustainability. It follows many other such reports in the past several years.

Cities and counties haven’t waited for this latest one to start taking action. Sunnyvale is making its own climate action plans to define how to move toward more environmentally sustainable practices.

One valuable tool for environmental sustainability is Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), a system allowing residents to use their collective buying power to purchase renewable power contracts, using the existing power grid.

Marin County has already adopted a CCA, which provides 50 percent or more renewable power at costs comparable to standard utility rates. Sonoma County’s CCA goes online this month, and Santa Cruz, Mountain View and Sunnyvale are investigating forming our own CCAs.

They are hugely successful in the east. CCAs provide power to almost the entire state of Illinois. Given the environmental threats we face and the possibility of giving consumers actual choice in their energy use, it is no surprise that interest in CCAs is growing. They are a game-changer.

Unfortunately, California Assemblyman Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), a longtime defender of utility monopolies, has introduced Assembly Bill 2145, which is intended to kill CCAs in California …

Sunnyvale’s Climate Action Plan identifies CCAs as reducing more greenhouse gas emissions than all other options available to us, combined. Additionally, CCAs give consumers a real choice in a monopolistic arena, without hitting them in the pocketbook.

At a time when cities are challenged to meet environmental sustainability goals, Bradford proposes eliminating the very best tool for cities to achieve them. For these reasons, many jurisdictions and the League of California Cities have vocally opposed Bradford’s bill. Sunnyvale is on record opposing AB 2145 as well, since it eliminates the possibility of Sunnyvale adopting a CCA.

On Wednesday, the Assembly Appropriations Committee puts this issue to a vote. Bradford’s AB 2145 is a direct assault on the environment and consumer choice, all to defend the existing utility monopolies. The Appropriations Committee must recognize it as such and vote to kill this bill Wednesday.

Jim Griffith is mayor of Sunnyvale.

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