Regional governments explore cooperative purchasing for electricity

VENTURA, Calif. – The County of Ventura is exploring Community Choice Energy to bring local control to energy purchasing and pricing options. The research is a joint effort with the counties of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and a number of cities in the region.

Community Choice Energy allows the community to determine what type of energy mix and programs it needs. The program enables local governments to leverage the purchasing power of their residents, businesses and governmental entities to purchase or generate power for their communities. It also gives communities greater choice to purchase their energy from green or renewable sources to help the environment while keeping rates competitive.

An advisory working group comprised of representatives from the three counties and the cities of Camarillo, Carpinteria, Moorpark, Ojai, Santa Barbara, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and Ventura is overseeing a feasibility study. A website – www.CentralCoastPower.org – has been developed to keep the public informed of the progress and how CCE may affect area homes and businesses.

“Under CCE, a non-profit public agency would be formed to purchase the electricity and set rates for the electricity generation portion of customer bills,” said Sue Hughes, Ventura County’s Senior Deputy Executive Officer for Government Affairs. “The existing utility company would continue to deliver the electricity, send bills and provide customer service. Most customers would not notice any change other than some wording on their bill.”

Community Choice Energy is a new, but tested, model for providing electricity. Existing CCE programs across the state offer electricity with a higher renewable energy content, in some cases from local solar and other renewable energy projects, while keeping electricity rates on par with the existing utilities.

All 27 eligible jurisdictions in the tri-county region are included in the study that will help determine whether CCE is appropriate for the region. The results of the study are expected to be presented in early 2017, when a decision about whether to move forward with a local or regional CCE program would be made by each city and county.

To sign up for email updates and learn more about CCE, visit CentralCoastPower.org.

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