Sunday, April 19, 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

Waiting game: Woman, toddler hope for kidney transplants

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Tiny twins call Heather House their 1st home

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

Solano ranks last in Bay Area for health

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
SID to consider water rate hikes

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1

California water saving mandate shrinks cuts for some cities

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: A1

 
Who is the Bay Area’s most popular athlete?

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
City announces Browns Valley Road closures

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

Healthier Living program begins mid-May

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

 
Bachelor party turns into community event

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Il Fiorello serves up chocolate desserts

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Coping with seasonal allergies

By Emerita Brigino-Buenaventura, M.d | From Page: C4

When to throw in the towel on sickly plants

By Karen Metz | From Page: C4

 
Church hosts health, wellness fair

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Solano superhero back in school

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
Weather for Sunday, April 19, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B6

Home, garden show offers something for everyone

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
2 nations at center of market drop

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7

Vanden robotics team ready to compete in world championships

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Fairfield hotel gets major renovation

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Teen victim of Dixon shooting dies

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A7

Land use, design, project synergy key to growth

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: B7

 
Fairfield police log: April 17, 2015

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: April 17, 2015

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
Commissary-Exchange pairing gains steam

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

Airmen with county ties complete training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

 
.

US / World

San Francisco marks anniversary of 1906 earthquake

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Time plus distance help some Oklahoma City victims move on

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Police: Officers kill man who charged at them near St. Louis

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Scarlett O’Hara outfit fetches $137,000 at auction

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Turin Shroud goes back on display for faithful and curious

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Caged puppies on car roof trigger dozens of 911 calls

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

French replica of revolutionary frigate sets sail for Boston

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Islamic State blamed for Afghan suicide bombing killing 35

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

Talk about corruption

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Transportation projects should benefit all drivers

By Brian Thiemer | From Page: A8

Justice not served

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Clinton should spruce up a bit

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Brown support of ag water ruffles feathers

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

Sound off for April 19, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: April 19, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in history: Sunday, April 19, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Is it possible for Methodists to agree to disagree on gay marriage?

By The Washington Post | From Page: C3 | Gallery

 
Vatican unexpectedly ends crackdown of US nun group

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Horoscopes: April 19, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

 
Wife needs to decide if she can tolerate husband’s binge drinking

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Anna Kendrick has book of essays coming out in 2016

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Phil Klay, Leslie Jamison among PEN award nominees

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
.

Sports

Crawford, Heston lead Giants to win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Curry scores 34, Warriors beat Pelicans 106-99 in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Reddick’s 3-run homer sends A’s to 5-0 victory over Royals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Cal defense shines for a change at scripted spring game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Jones throws 2 TDs, wins challenge at Ohio State spring game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Serena Williams gets a rare test from Giorgi but holds on

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Tom Watson: Next Masters might be his last

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Free agent center Wisniewski signs 1-year deal with Jaguars

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Pete Rose hired by Fox as special guest studio analyst

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Marcotte, Ryan win US cycling Criterium championships

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Independent league experiments with 3-ball walks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Merritt maintains edge through 3 rounds at RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
As Spurs know, international players can impact NBA playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Rose scores 23, Bulls beat Bucks 103-91

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Harden has 24 points, Rockets beat Mavs 118-108 in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Pierce leads Wizards past Raptors in OT in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Hometown report: Little League baseball

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

Hometown report: Youth track

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

 
Kenseth content in car and not contemplating retirement

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Logano leads flag-to-flag to win Xfinity race at Bristol

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
This date in sports history for April 19

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
.

Business

Using a prepaid card? Avoid getting socked with fees

By The Washington Post | From Page: B7

 
This year’s fight for the tech industry: Patent trolls

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Recalls this week: blowers, bike hooks, mattresses, toys

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
IMS: US prescription drug spending jumped 13 percent in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Fast-growing Asian aviation confronts safety challenges

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

 
USDA veterinarian: Bird flu outbreak could be ‘devastating’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
.

Obituaries

Carole Anspach

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Frances Bayona Lozano

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Robert Larkin

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Barbara Medders

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Carrol “Carl” Gordon Parker

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
John Thompson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Allen Ellsworth Dolby Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Sterling Jenkins

By Nancy Green | From Page: A5

Dennis Burkhart von Ting

By Nancy Green | From Page: A5

 
.

Comics