Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 9:37 pm | Fair 52º


Goleta Backs But Won’t Fund Community Choice Energy Study

The city of Goleta supports a multi-agency effort to study whether more renewable energy sources could be used in electricity serving Central Coast communities.

A majority of officials just didn’t want to put any money toward the idea on Tuesday.

Goleta City Council unanimously voted to back a Santa Barbara County-led effort to consider Community Choice Energy, or Community Choice Aggregation, which allows California cities and counties to choose the source of electrical power and to set their own rates.

Local governments can purchase electricity from cleaner sources like solar or wind, which would then be delivered through existing utilities transmission lines.

Where council member opinions differed, however, was if Goleta should allocate $15,000 from its general fund to participate in a technical and financial feasibility study.

Mayor Paula Perotte and Councilman Michael Bennett were in favor, but councilmen Roger Aceves and Tony Vallejo didn’t want to give the county any more money than the millions Goleta already provides annually via a revenue-neutrality agreement the city signed with the county when Goleta incorporated in 2002.

Because Mayor Pro Tem Jim Farr has been absent from meetings since August with a yet-to-be-disclosed medical problem, the funding vote would’ve been deadlocked 2-2.

A dozen public speakers were in favor of the allocation, since a CCE is mentioned in Goleta’s Climate Action Plan as the best local strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“CCE will offer rate payers something they’ve never had before — competition and choice,” said April Price of the Community Environmental Council, which allocated $50,000 of its own funds for the study.

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors in June approved $400,000 in funding for the initial phase of evaluating the formation of a CCE program.

The county estimates the feasibility study will cost $500,000. To offset its contribution, the county asked other agencies to put in money and, in exchange, those agencies get a representative on an advisory working group that helps choose a consultant and review a study draft.

The Santa Barbara City Council and the Ventura County Board of Supervisors allocated $50,000 each toward the study, and San Luis Obispo County officials will soon consider a similar $50,000 request, Goleta’s advance-planning manager Anne Wells said.

Vallejo likened the county’s financial request to “a guy who mugs you on the street corner” and then asks for cab fare.

Wells assured officials that participating in the study wouldn’t alter Goleta’s existing electricity provider — Southern California Edison — but she noted a CCE could lead to surcharges.

Cities would negotiate contracts with energy providers and could also save customers money. She said customers could also opt out of a CCE program.

After completion of a study, the state would have to approve a CCE before it’s rolled out to customers, Wells said.

Aceves said he had no problem with participating, but opposed contributing money to the study. 

Staff confirmed the city wouldn’t have to pay to be involved in the study, since a CCE would need to work with Goleta to collect data.

“The study will definitely tell us what we want to know,” Perotte said.

“It’s unfortunate that Mayor Pro Tem Farr is not here, but that’s where we are at this point.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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