On June 21, the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved a preliminary financing plan and introduced an ordinance for the development of the Community Choice Energy (CCE) program for Placer County.
CCE programs allow local governments to provide electricity based on the pooled energy use of ratepayers within their jurisdictions and in the territories of investor owned utilities (IOSs) such as PG&E and Liberty Energy. The CCE program will purchase and provide the electricity and will work with PG&E to provide seamless delivery over its transmission lines and infrastructure. PG&E will continue to be responsible for maintaining the electric distribution system, metering and billing, and will continue providing most public benefit programs.
An analysis of electricity usage, for all ratepayers in the Placer County, showed that a CCE program is financially feasible using conservative estimates. The analysis included the energy load (use), existing rate structures, and the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment fee (PCIA), also known as the PG&E exit fee. The results of the analysis indicated that a CCE program is viable and sustainable under a range of market conditions and various energy portfolio compositions. The analysis also indicated that local resources provide additional economic and environmental benefits. The energy cost portion of utility bills is estimated to be about 5% less. Currently, the energy cost, and the transmission and delivery costs are not broken out on PG&E utility bills.
In her presentation, Treasurer-Tax Collector Jenine Windeshausen indicated that a CCE provides economic and environmental benefits, local control of electricity rates and rebates and incentives, and provides ratepayers a choice of electricity providers, and energy sources.
“Placer County is uniquely positioned with our resources,” said Windeshausen. “We have not been able to find another location in the state with the variety of resources we have here in Placer County.”
These resources include hydropower and biomass, and the potential for development of other resources such as waste-to-energy and solar. Windeshausen noted that while power purchases from local sources would be at market rates, there are likely to be efficiencies in procuring and managing a portfolio that includes local resources.
The initial financing request is for $325,000 for the assessment and development phase, and $1.2 million to initiate implementation of the CCE. The financing will be provided by the County Treasury and repaid from revenues once the CCE goes into operations. Windeshausen noted that there are off-ramps in the event of unforeseen circumstances or should the County decide to abandon the effort in the future. Additionally, the final implementation plan that is required to be submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission will include an exit plan should the program be terminated at any point in the future.
Windeshausen indicated that timing is critical to take advantage of historically low energy prices and to secure operational resources.
The Board’s action provides authorization and direction to seek the participation of and to work with the cities of Rocklin, Lincoln, Auburn, Colfax and the Town of Loomis. Since Roseville has the advantage of having its own municipal utility, it is precluded from participating in a CCE.
On June 7, the Board of Supervisors reviewed the outline for developing a CCE program in Placer County and a summary of the assessment, due diligence and planning work done to that point.