San Diego County Board of Supervisors

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Study says say community choice would save consumers $12 million a year

The Board of Supervisors, moving to end SDG&E’s decades-long monopoly over electricity rates, voted Tuesday to establish a community choice energy program in the county’s unincorporated area.

County leaders said the initiative will bolster the use of renewable energy and cited a recent study estimating it would save 179,000 residential and business ratepayers $12 million a year.

“This is a huge victory for consumers who are sick and tired of getting ripped off by SDG&E and are hungry for an alternative,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, board chairwoman. “Ratepayers will finally have the freedom to choose where they get their energy.”

The county is looking at a 2022 launch date and is talking with officials in Carlsbad, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Santee and other local governments about a possible joint choice initiative.

The program includes a key environmental goal: By 2030, at least 90 percent of the energy provided is expected to come from solar and other sources of renewable power.

A recent study done by a consultant for the county predicted that utility rates for those tapping into the program would be at least two percent lower than what SDG&E is expected to charge.

The study estimates the program will save ratepayers $12 million annually during the first decade of operation.

The county’s unincorporated area covers more than 3,500 square miles and includes Spring Valley, Alpine, Borrego Springs, Fallbrook, Campo, Lakeside and Julian.

There are about 20 community choice programs in California. San Diego, Chula Vista and several other local cities are preparing to launch their own initiatives.

Jacob, a longtime supporter of community choice, renewed her call for it in her State of the County speech early this year. She also announced that Supervisor Nathan Fletcher was joining her in the effort.