The city of Goleta has agreed to join the Monterey Bay Community Power Authority, separating from Southern California Edison.

Known as Community Choice Energy programs, the systems are created to provide a higher percentage of renewable or carbon-free electricity, such as wind and solar, at competitive and lower rates than existing investor- owned utilities.

Currently there are about 19 Community Choice Energy programs in operation throughout California, serving close to 10 million customers.

Customers would have the option of opting out of the Community Choice Energy program if they want. Goleta officials said customers would see no day-to-day difference in how they use electricity.

The energy is purchased through the CCE and distributed through Edison power lines. Edison would continue to provide for billing, physical transmission and distribution services.

Community choice aggregation allows cities and counties to join with others in purchasing electric power, and to develop a portfolio of energy generation sources. Monterey Bay is one of about 19 community choice groups in the state.

“The larger energy load we can aggregate together as communities lower our purchase price for wholesable renewable energy and that drives savings to our customers,” said Mark Adato, energy public engagement associate from the Monterey Bay Community Power Authority. “I know that everyone here has been working very diligently to try and put something together

Adato said the opt-out rate of people in other cities within the consortium is about 3 percent. 

The Goleta City Council’s vote this week was 5-0.

City Councilman James Kyriaco enthusiastically supports the shift. It will cost Goleta about $7,500 to join. 

“Monterey Bay Community Power offers an unbeatable combination of rebates, green energy programs and incentives that Goleta residents are going to love,” Kyriaco said. “I am also looking forward to Goleta having representation in the MBCP governance structure and working collaboratively with the our partners to push needed energy resilience initiatives here locally.”

Goleta Councilman Roger Aceves said there are too many unknowns about future costs and reliability to make him feel totally comfortable about the impacts on residences and businesses. Initially, costs for the customer are expected to be the same or competitive, with 5-percent rebates. 

“I think people should have a choice, but I am still very concerned on the financial impacts,” Aceves said. 

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.