City Council adopts East Bay Community Choice Aggregation Program

Mikaela Raphael/Staff

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The Berkeley City Council held a special meeting Tuesday evening to discuss updates on the East Bay Community Choice Aggregation Program, or CCA, which was later adopted as a part of the regular meeting.

CCA enables local governments to procure energy from renewable sources, allowing a greener supply of energy at a competitive rate. One of the scenarios presented could offer less expensive rates than PG&E over a forecasted period through 2030, according to Tom Kelly, executive director of Kyoto USA.

CCA has been officially in the works since 2014, though the council has been intermittently discussing the issue for around 13 years, according to Councilmember Kriss Worthington. The first expected roll out date to customers is fall 2018, said Berkeley’s Chief Resilience Officer Timothy Burroughs at the meeting.

“I’d like to say we’re in the home stretch here,” Kelly said.

If renewable energy prices rose and PG&E reduced its prices, however, there’s a chance that the CCA option could end up being more expensive to consumers, according to Kelly.

“It would have to be a perfect storm of negative conditions,” Kelly said at the meeting.

During the meeting, Kelly outlined the four most important tasks guiding the technical program. He said they must deliver electricity to Berkeley citizens at a lower price than PG&E, produce less greenhouse gas emission than PG&E, provide more renewable resources than PG&E and generate local jobs.

Overall, Alameda homes and businesses could save between 1 and 9 percent on their electricity bills, according to Kelly.

“There were a lot of different perspectives on what this program should be, and it did take this process longer than it should have,” Kelly said at the meeting. “I think the end result is a much more robust and interesting program.”

Several council members and concerned citizens stressed the importance of properly informing the public. The program is required to send out at least four notices to each customer in the city — two before the program rolls out and two after. The initial notices will outline several options, such as automatically becoming a part of the program or opting out.

Everyone in the county is a part of the plan, though only 25 to 30 percent of the population will be initially phased in, according to Kelly.

According to Worthington, the program would result in at least a 4 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses.  If Berkeley were to select a 95 percent carbon-free option, it would lead to a 16 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses.

“I can’t think of anything else in our climate action plan that will get us up to 16 percent of what we need to get,” Worthington said. “This is the number one tool to move us in that direction.”

Contact Edward Booth at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Edward_E_Booth.