Calabasas will become the first city to join the Los Angeles County Community Choice Energy program.
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors launched the energy buying co-op earlier this year. It will offer businesses and residents an opportunity to pool their buying power and purchase electricity that comes from suppliers other than Southern California Edison.
When a deal with the county is finalized, Calabasas residents can join the Community Choice collective, or they can choose to continue purchasing power from Edison.
SCE lines will be used to distribute the power to customers whether they stay with the utility or not.
Community Choice collectives were approved by the Legislature in 2002.
“The (co-op) offers residents the opportunity to lower utility bills, grow the green economy and, more importantly, combat climate change,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, whose motion created the county co-op.
Calabasas said it will conduct a public forum and media outreach to inform residents about the program and receive feedback.
Westlake Village officials also have begun to look at the program.
“Saving money on utility bills and using cleaner energies like solar or wind is a win-win outcome for our residents,” Calabasas Mayor Mary Sue Maurer said.
“As the first city in L.A. County to approve this innovative program, Calabasas is proud to lead the way in helping California achieve the goal of getting 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030,” Maurer said.
Edison says it supports Community Choice Energy—but not if the customers who stay with the utility are forced to pay higher bills.
“SCE supports customers’right to purchase power from a (collective) as long as there are no costs shifted to customers who continue to purchase their power from the utility,” Edison spokesperson Robert Laffoon Villegas said in a report.
“No customer should pay more than their share for the clean energy choices made to meet state policy, while others pay less,” Villegas said.
The impact of the collectives on SCE’s bottom line remains unclear. Edison could lose more than a million customers to the new competition, one source told The Acorn.
But according to Villegas, “(Collectives) and investor-owned utilities, such as SCE are not in competition for customers. When (collectives) enter the market, they enter the buying and selling side of the business, creating a system somewhat like Texas, where customers have a choice in who sells them electricity.”
SCE doesn’t make money on the procurement of energy for its customers. Most of the power the utility purchases and provides to its customers is offered without a mark-up. Edison, however, makes a profit on the delivery portion of its business, and the utility will continue to be the sole transmitter of power regardless of where customers buy it from.
While concerned about the new competition, Edison believes there will be other revenue opportunities in the future, as in the growing demand to provide power for electric vehicles.
Calabasas customers who join the county co-op will retain their SCE meter and monthly billing. The new bill, however, will be separated into charges for the energy that comes from the collective—and charges for the distribution and transmission of power that comes from Edison.
The price customers will pay for co-op power versus SCE power has not been determined.