Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 8:32 am | Overcast 66º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Santa Barbara Gives Community Energy Plan Another Look, Pursues Local Energy Plan

The Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday voted to take another look at the costly Community Choice Energy plan, and also develop a local strategic energy plan to help increase renewable energy options.

The vote was 5-1, with councilman Frank Hotchkiss voting No. Mayor Helene Schneider was absent.

“This is the right direction,” said Councilman Gregg Hart. “We need to pursue both of the things at the same time.”

Hart said the end game is clear.

“We need to have energy created on the South Coast, energy that is renewable, clean, non-polluting and cheap for customers,” Hart said. “We need to achieve the goal that we have, to provide distributed local energy on the south coast. We have to figure out how to do that.”

It will cost the city about $15,000 to have the feasibility study re-examined by the Advisory Working Group’s selected consultant, and up to $50,000 to procure the services of another peer reviewer to look at the possibilities.

A study involving 11 jurisdictions across the Tri-Counties found that a regional community choice energy program is not viable because it would not be financially competitive with Southern California Edison.

Community Choice Energy allows the state's cities and counties to choose their sources of electrical power and to set their own rates. The program’s goal is to give consumers a more competitive rate and greener options, than what the large utility companies provide.

The local governments could purchase electricity from renewable sources, and they would be delivered through existing utility transmission lines.

Nine Community Choice Energy programs are operating in the state. But the local study found that a regional or stand-alone Santa Barbara program would not provide competitive rates or remain financially solvent.

Although other CCE programs exist throughout the state, Santa Barbara is unique because of its location, and because residents get their power from both Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric.

In addition to taking another look at the plan, the council plans to develop an Energy Strategic Plan for the city.

The plan would identify and aggregate critical parcel, financial and technical data as well as develop site-specific conceptual plans that would position the city to respond to opportunities for funding and development of generation, storage or efficiency opportunities as they arise, according to a city staff report.

Tom Widroe, president of conservative group “City Watch,” opposed the idea.

“It feels like a scam to me,” Widroe said. “What is the outcry for this. This doesn’t seem to make financial sense at all. It just seems like a bad idea to have staff go back and look at it again.

Councilman Hotchkiss was the sole no vote.

He put Matt Fore, senior assistant to the city administrator, on the spot, asking how much time he has spent work on the CCE project. Fore responded about “two years.”

“You are a bright guy,” Hotchkiss said. “Why would you put more of your time and energy on this when you have other things to do?”

Fore said it was a council policy decision on whether to move forward.

“You have done a huge amount of work here and it is hard for me to shoot it down, which I won’t, but I don’t think you should do much more,” said Hotchkiss, who is running for mayor. “We are trying to push water up hill, and I understand it is a political choice, but not one I would make.”

Murillo, another mayoral candidate, responded directly to Hotchkiss at the meeting.

“The CCE is worth pursuing, Mr. Hotchkiss,” Murillo said. “It was a huge part of our climate-change action plan. The community is very excited about renewable energy.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina 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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >