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Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 6:50 pm | Partly Cloudy 50º


Goleta Council Won’t Reconsider Funding Santa Barbara County Energy Study

After considering the request for a second time, Goleta officials still won’t give Santa Barbara County $15,000 from the city's general fund to study whether more renewable energy sources could be used in electricity serving Central Coast communities.

The Goleta City Council voted Sept. 1 to support the multi-agency effort but without financial backing, which was the same result Tuesday when officials took up the issue again at the request of Mayor Paula Perotte.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Farr — since he had been absent from the previous meeting recovering from a stroke — supported the mayor’s request.

It’s no surprise, then, that he was the other dissenting voice when the council voted 3-2 in favor of zero financial backing.

As before, councilmen Roger Aceves and Tony Vallejo staunchly opposed putting Goleta money into a county-led technical and financial feasibility study 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.

Councilman Michael Bennett, who previously favored funding the study, joined Aceves and Vallejo in not wanting to give the county any more money on top of the millions Goleta already provides annually via a revenue-neutrality agreement signed with the county when Goleta incorporated in 2002.

Under a CCE, local governments can purchase electricity from cleaner sources such as solar or wind, which would then be delivered through existing utilities transmission lines.

The county estimates the feasibility study will cost $500,000, and the county Board of Supervisors in June approved $400,000 for the initial phase of evaluating the formation of a CCE program.

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.

Cities that don’t give money will still be included in the study, with staff providing necessary information. They just don’t get a seat at the table.

“It’s not whether we agree with the feasibility study,” Aceves said. “It’s not whether we want to participate.”

The Santa Barbara City Council and the Ventura County Board of Supervisors have allocated $50,000 each toward the study, and San Luis Obispo County officials considered a similar $50,000 request.

Five public speakers spoke in favor of funding the study, since a CCE is mentioned in Goleta’s Climate Action Plan as a best strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

City planners told officials participating in the study wouldn’t alter Goleta’s existing electricity provider — Southern California Edison — but a CCE could lead to surcharges.

Cities could negotiate contracts with energy providers and save customers money, but some could also opt out of a CCE program.

Perotte said she was disappointed Goleta wouldn’t be as involved.

After completion of a study, the state will have to approve a CCE before it is rolled out to customers.

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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