Last week, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors voted to set a default of 100% renewable electricity when the county launches service through the Clean Power Alliance in 2019. Clean Power Alliance is a Southern California community choice energy provider that will procure cleaner power at lower costs than investor-owned utility Southern California Edison (SCE).
According to the Sierra Club, Ventura County made history by becoming the first county in the country to set a renewable energy default of 100%. Ventura County joins the cities of Ventura, Ojai, South Pasadena, Culver City, Santa Monica, Rolling Hills Estates, and West Hollywood in setting the new standard for a future powered by renewable sources, like wind and solar, by selecting the 100% default with Clean Power Alliance. Other cities could join them this week, including Thousand Oaks, Hawaiian Gardens, and Oxnard.
For the municipalities with the 100% default, CARE and other low-income customers will have the plan benefit at no additional cost. Local renewable energy development will also create cleaner air and more jobs in the area. Supporters agree that renewable options benefitting low-income households and those affected by affordability and environmental injustices in the current energy system must be prioritized, as communities pursue solutions to repower themselves fully with renewable energy.
“In expanding clean energy options, cities should prioritize leading to a more just environment and economy with more local priority for a people-centered electric system,” said Drew O’Bryan, campaign representative with the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 Action. “Reduced rates for low-income households are a first step to paving a way to an equitable energy system powered entirely by renewables in the years to come. These 100% defaults signal that Southern California cities are committed to clean energy, but there’s still work to be done to ensure that the shift to renewables continues to benefit those that have suffered under environmental and energy-price burdens first and foremost.”
The community choice energy agency will supply electricity to three million people across 31 communities in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. Service for residential accounts will begin in February 2019 and in May 2019 for all other non-residential accounts.
Clean Power Alliance procures electricity on behalf of customers in member jurisdictions, while SCE transmits the electricity and handles billing. Customers are automatically enrolled in their city’s default plan but can choose another plan at any time (three renewable energy tiers are available — 36, 50, and 100%). To date, the only other city in California with a 100% default is Portola Valley, part of Peninsula Clean Energy.
In response, Katie Davis of the Los Padres Chapter of the Sierra Club issued the following statement: “All of us were impacted by the Thomas Fire, an unusual December fire that’s part of a larger and frightening trend of increases in fire and weather disasters linked to climate change from burning fossil fuels. The good news is that the cost to move to clean power is now minimal due to the rapidly decreasing cost of renewable energy and increased energy efficiency. This decision will result in cleaner air, better health, more jobs — and will help save the planet. Thanks to Ventura for leading the way.”