Sunday, February 1, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Will lawmakers kill energy independence moves?

By
From page A11 | July 02, 2014 |

Nothing is more important to California’s large privately owned utilities than the virtual monopolies they enjoy in most of the state.

Those monopolies make it virtually impossible for almost all businesses and residents outside cities with municipal power companies to buy electricity from anyone but companies like Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, also guaranteeing significant profits to those utilities in perpetuity.

But the big energy companies feel threatened these days by a movement toward energy independence now afoot from Sonoma and Marin counties to big cities like San Francisco and San Diego. Moves are also active in Alameda County and Lancaster.

Whether the independence efforts succeed or not will depend in part on the fate of a proposed law now working its way through the state Legislature, one that advocates of competition say will surely kill their movement if it passes.

The proposal, Assembly Bill 2145, looks innocuous on its surface: It would mandate an opt-in approach for newly-independent electric arrangements known as community choice aggregations, rather than the opt-out setup on which every such plan in America has been based.

So far, only two CCAs operate in California, covering much of Marin and Sonoma counties. They buy power from generators and sell it to local residents, transmitting the energy over the power grid owned and operated by the big utilities. Customers still get bills from the big firms, but part of what they pay goes to the CCAs, set up on votes by city and county governments.

Organizers in Marin and Sonoma counties say their customers are saving a minimum of 4 percent on monthly bills, with some invoices reduced by about 6 percent. Net savings reported so far: More than $4 million.

In each area with a CCA, existing utility customers automatically get power from the new agency, unless they opt out and go back to their former utility, which about 20 percent of Marin customers have done. AB 2145 would flip that around, forcing CCAs to recruit each of their customers.

“This would rob community choice programs of the critical mass they need to get off the ground,” said San Diego County supervisors Dianne Jacob and Dave Roberts in a recent essay. The two want a CCA for the San Diego area. “This change would cripple the creation of local initiatives and lock in an energy market that is rigged against consumers,” they said.

AB 2145 sponsor Steven Bradford, a Democratic assemblyman from Gardena and a former Southern California Edison executive, argues that because most Californians have no idea what a CCA is, the new agencies should be forced to market themselves.

“These outfits need to go into the community and convince people to join,” he said. “That is the consumerist way to introduce competition.”

His argument is a “red herring,” says Shawn Marshall, director of a pro-CCA group called LEAN Energy US, who helped organize the Marin and Sonoma agencies. “We have no problem with reporting all we do to the ratepayers. But Bradford and the utilities know opt-in is a poison pill that would kill this entire concept.”

Bradford’s bill passed the Assembly in May and is now before state Senate committees. It is the second utility-backed effort of the last four years to kill CCAs.

The first was the failed 2010 Proposition 16, which sought to require a two-thirds vote for a local ballot measure before any government could set up a CCA. PG&E invested more than $40 million in that failed proposition, far exceeding what CCA backers spent. Neither it nor the other big utilities want to become mere common carriers that mainly supply transportation of power, rather than also providing the electricity.

Bradford insists an opt-in system is needed because most citizens are clueless about CCAs. The danger is that because his fellow lawmakers are for the most part also uninformed, they will pass AB 2145, leaving it up to Gov. Jerry Brown to sign or veto the measure, which is strongly backed by labor unions which are big funders of his campaigns.

But if there is ever to be significant energy competition in California, this bill must die, despite the consumerist rhetoric in which Bradford carefully wraps it.

Thomas Elias is a California author. Reach him at [email protected]

 

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Fire Department honors top firefighters

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
 
 
 
4th annual Health and Wellness Fair a big success

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Banish dry skin this winter

By Sarah Porkka | From Page: C4, 1 Comment

 
Chocolate: A long journey to deliciousness

By Karen Metz | From Page: C4

 
County board to consider DA reorganization plan

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Eurozone offers lesson in debt

By Mark Sievers | From Page: B7

 
Rodriguez graduate completes basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

 
Fairfield police log: Jan. 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Jan. 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

 
NASA launches Earth-observing satellite

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

From ocean to ocean, through the Panama Canal

By The Associated Press | From Page: C1

 
Scientist considered father of birth control pill dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

‘Rolled Sleeves Bandit’ tied to 7 bank robberies in custody

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Bay Area agency accuses former official of embezzling $1.3M

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Los Angeles female-only mosque may be first in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California health care contract fight resolved

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Man arrested after body parts found in suitcase

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Letter with suspicious powder received at Samaritan’s Purse

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Snails slither into spa scene in Thailand and around world

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
Drivers: Return to your dealers for a 2nd air bag recall fix

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Hatfields, McCoys make moonshine legally in southern W.Va.

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Airport authorities: Traveler beats homeless man with chair

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Kerry: ‘Enormous interest in new relationship with Cuba

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
5 given preliminary charges over jihadi network in France

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Fire devastates major Russian library, threatens rare texts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Swiss police: 4 dead after avalanche hits group of skiers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Fire at Bangladesh plastics factory kills at least 13

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Vatican investigates 2 cases of child porn possession

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Islamic State fighters admit defeat in Syrian town of Kobani

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
From car lots to city budgets, cheap oil means change

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Africa agrees to send 7,500 troops to fight Boko Haram

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Civilians flee east Ukraine town as fighting intensifies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

British actress Geraldine McEwan dies at age 82

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Greek leader tamps down rhetoric, vows to pay off debts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Iraqi libraries ransacked by Islamic State group in Mosul

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
.

Opinion

 
Sound off for Feb. 1, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Good old days weren’t as good as we remember

By Megan Mcardle | From Page: A8

Editorial Cartoon: Feb. 1, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Today in History: Feb. 1, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Feb. 1, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Prayer, commonly misunderstood

By The Rev. Rick L. Stonestreet | From Page: C3, 3 Comments

 
Sundance doc pulls back curtain on Scientology

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Horoscopes: Feb. 1, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

Volunteer or visit because February is National Salute to Veteran Patients

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

 
.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Review: ‘First Bad Man’ is Miranda July’s debut novel

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Lorrie Moore nominated for short story prize

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

New book to feature unpublished Hemingway conversations

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

Mustangs win the whole Encalada

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Super Bowl the final act of the NFL’s worst season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Lowest prices on last-minute Super Bowl tickets near $9,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rodgers wins MVP, Watt unanimous top AP defensive player

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Lydia Ko takes No. 1 spot at 17, Na Yeon Choi wins opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Laird takes a 3-shot lead in Phoenix Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Seau, Bettis, Brown, Haley, Shields voted into Hall of Fame

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

On the money: Low gas prices, incentives change math for electric cars

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Small talk: NFL players find second careers as entrepreneurs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Sumptuous seaside hotel sells for record-shattering $360M

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Recalls this week: space heaters, orbital sanders

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Review: Open e-book format comes with headaches

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
.

Obituaries

Joe Lambert Robinson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Flora Mae Brooks

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Otilia (Tela) Quinn

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
Lester Singer

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

WillIiam “Bill” Hunter

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Garry A. Britton

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Anthony Neal Hunley

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Frank Z. Perez

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics