April 10, 2013
February 10, 2013
Matier and Ross, San Francisco Chronicle
September 11, 2012
Steven Falk in the San Francisco Chronicle
September 9, 2012
August 6, 2012
San Francisco Examiner
January 28, 2013
San Francisco Chronicle
January 23, 2013
San Francisco Examiner
January 21, 2013
San Francisco Examiner
December 5, 2012
Established by Assembly Bill 117, Community Choice Aggregation is a system that allows local governments to procure electric energy for use by residents. AB 117 requires that the existing utility, such as PG&E, continue to deliver the electricity through the existing electric grid, including consumer metering, billing, collection and all other retail services (i.e. call centers, outage restoration, new services, etc.) The law does NOT require CCAs to produce or provide any new green power to customers.
The current CCA system was set up in the wake of the 2001-2002 California energy crisis, and CCAs were originally conceived as tools to lower energy costs. In the years following no CCAs were formed because studies showed that local government agencies could not purchase power at a lower cost than the existing utilities, which had both more market leverage and more technical expertise. The local CCAs also had start up costs and high management costs that were amortized over a smaller customer base.
In the past several years, lured by the promise of green power, several California localities (Marin County and San Francisco) have begun the process of converting to CCAs. But the promise of CCA has still not materialized. The CCAs that are now in existence and those being formed are delivering much higher-priced power that is not always “greener” as most customers understand that term.
Current contracts do not require any new green power generation. Instead, they largely rely on “Transferable Renewable Energy Credits” or what is called “firmed and shaped” power – power that is renewable at its source, usually far out of state, but is backed up by existing grid resources, such as gas-fired plants and even coal generation. Practically this means the CCAs buy resources that are called renewable, like Oregon biomass burning power or Washington wind-farm power, and then back it up in California with traditional “brown” power when the wind isn’t blowing or the sources can’t be delivered to the homes when needed.
Covering the costs of the new organizations require ratepayers to pay more – up to double – what they currently pay for electricity generation. These figures are not estimates – at the January 22, 2013 SFPUC Rate Fairness Board hearing in San Francisco, one not-to-exceed rate presented by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission was .1523 cents per kilowatt hour – nearly double the current rate of .0788 cents per kilowatt hour. A grand jury in Marin recommended ceasing their program over cost concerns.
In order to create enough demand for a CCA to be viable, program architects enroll large swaths of the population without their consent and begin charging them higher rates. Should San Francisco’s CCA go live, roughly 90,000 customers will be involuntarily enrolled in the program in October of this year. While there is an opt-out provision, customers have to proactively engage with the city, understand and comply with the opt-out provisions, and pay a fee.
Because CCAs require localities to pay more for power, budgets for other services are reduced. The San Francisco Controller estimated in a report issued in August of 2012 that the initial rates, which were far lower than the .1523/kwh recently presented, would put 95 San Franciscans out of work and send 8 million dollars out of the local economy to San Francisco’s CCA provider, Shell Oil in Houston, Texas.
San Francisco has proposed contracting with Shell Oil to provide its CCA power. Shell is widely acknowledged as one of the worst environmental violators in business, is directly responsible for some of the most devastating oil spills in history and is currently suing Greenpeace and the Sierra Club to silence their opposition to Shell drilling in an environmentally sensitive area in the Arctic. Using local dollars to support Shell undercuts the program’s environmental goals.
Communications made by CCAs to consumers in California consistently avoid or misrepresent the true cost of the programs. In a notification to 80,000 customers that they were being enrolled with Marin’s CCA, the agency made no mention of price. When asked about the omission, Marin CCA CEO Dawn Weisz said: “What we had to do in the letter was make the letter as simple, clear, and as easy to understand as we could and not bombard people with too much information.” In several January news articles that appeared in San Francisco, SFPUC spokesman Tyrone Jue misrepresented the cost and impact of the program on the local economy. Jue described the rates consumers are likely to pay as “just the beginning of the conversation” and said “the final rate will probably be lower than the rate singled out by critics.” He also said that “CleanPowerSF is clearly for people…who want local jobs.” Both statements directly contradict the Shell contract and the Controller’s economic report, which estimated at least 95 San Franciscans would lose their jobs if the program goes into effect.
Compensation and bonuses for CCA executives have been roundly criticized in the press. Marin CCA CEO Dawn Weisz’s package totaled about $325,000 for her first year, and irked many who felt that middle-class families were being involuntarily enrolled and squeezed by higher bills. In some cases, marketing and administration costs alone eat up a significant portion of the rate increases, leaving only a fraction of the funds available to purchase green or brown power. Florida’s Sunshine Energy CCA had to be terminated by the state after it was revealed that 76.4 percent of the contributions were spent on marketing and administration.
 Public Power: Economic Report Says It’d Cost Millions, Lose City Jobs, SFWeekly, Aug. 6, 2012
 Marin Clean Energy: Pull the Plug, 2009-2010 Marin County Civil Grand Jury, Dec. 2, 2009
 Marin County residents notified of power switch, ABC 7 News, June 13, 2012
 Uncertainty on Costs Clouds CleanPowerSF, The Examiner, Jan. 24, 2013
 Marketing campaign planned to tout CleanPowerSF, educate public, The Chronicle, Jan. 21, 2013
 Paying Extra for Green Power and Getting Ads Instead, The New York Times, Nov. 16, 2009
This page is proudly paid for by IBEW Local 1245. Contracting with Shell would hurt our members, their families and all San Franciscans who would face higher rates and fewer local jobs as a result. IBEW 1245 represents over 19,000 utility workers in Northern and Central California and Northern Nevada. Throughout Northern and Central California, the IBEW represents the workers at 28 different electric utilities, including Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Alameda Municipal Power, Silicon Valley Power and Truckee-Donner Public Utility District. In San Francisco, the IBEW represents electrical workers at PG&E and SFPUC, as well as the workers employed by contractors performing work for these public utilities.
While IBEW 1245 members may work for different utilities, they are connected by the work they do and their commitment to the customers they serve. IBEW 1245 members generate electricity for each of these utilities and are proud to deliver this essential service. We are an important part of the reason that California is the leading producer of clean power in the United States and one of the leading producers in the world. We want electricity consumed by Californians to be generated in California by Californians. As increasingly more of that electricity is generated from renewable sources, IBEW members are helping the promise of the green economy to come true.