San Diego eyes community choice aggregation to meet 100% renewable goals

Dive Brief:

  • San Diego's plan to reach 100% renewable energy by 2035 may or may not be possible, but if it goes the Community Choice Aggregation route to achieve the goal, but ClimateWire reports that it will likely face resistance from San Diego Gas & Electric. 
  • The city is preparing to outline its plan to eliminate fossil fuels and will seek to take over the purchase of electricity using the CCA model and leaving San Diego Gas & Electric to own the wires and deliver the power.
  • While SDG&E says it supports the CCA model, last year the utility filed with regulators to establish a separate investor-backed marketing division to address CCA issues, which it cannot by law do with ratepayer funds.

Dive Insight:

San Diego is joining a growing list of cities pledging to fight climate change by switching to 100% renewable energy within a few decades. For the California city, the CCA system appears to give them the best path forward to do so, but ClimateWire notes it will be an arduous battle with SDG&E, similar to one in 2010 between fellow California utility Pacific Gas and Electric and Marin County. 

The CCA system would allow San Diego to purchase energy for its customers, leaving the utility to deliver the power. The utility signaled it was gearing up for the fight in December, when it informed regulators it was establishing a separate marketing arm to discuss the CCA, the first one in the state to do so, ClimateWire notes. 

The utility has said it isn't opposed to the CCA structure per se, but wants to ensure a rigorous debate“This isn’t about opposition of community choice aggregation ... It’s about making sure there’s a robust public discussion about what our energy future looks like," a spokesperson said.

California law allows community choice providers to establish rates that support their own power mix, while utilities receive a fee for distributing the power. But even with the CCA system backing greater renewable energy, is 100% by 2035 feasible?

 "By 2035 is within the realm of what most serious people would think is technically impossible," Richard Carson, an economics professor at the University of California, told ClimateWire.

But on the other hand: "We've mathematically shown how we get to 100 percent," Climate Action Campaign Executive Director Nicole Capretz told the news outlet. "We had to prove with substantial evidence that every single strategy would add up to the big goal."

Other parts of the plan to reach their goal of getting 100% clean energy includes biking, walking or mass transit in congested corridors, reduce cars idling by synchronizing traffic cars and shift the city's car fleet to be 90% electric vehicles, ClimateWire reports. 

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Filed Under: Solar & Renewables
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