Amazingly, it was foreordained. California lawmakers established the Community Choice Aggregation “green” energy program, which gives cities and counties the authority to buy and sell electricity in local communities currently served by investor-owned utilities like Southern California Edison. They pledged lower prices and a greater reliance on renewable energy.
Although the cost and environmental advantages of CCAs are apparent, the California Choice Energy Authority explains that “one important aspect of these remarkable programs is that they can also provide far greater control for municipalities who choose to create their own CCA.” However, the benefits of CCA are not apparent as the Orange County Power Authority plans its implementation.
Instead of offering lower rates, the authority is forcing residents of participating communities (Fullerton, Irvine, Buena Park, and Huntington Beach) to enroll automatically in a 7 percent more expensive plan than their current service. It makes it difficult for them to opt out.
As Orange County Supervisor Doug Chaffee noted, the agency is merely “brokering power that would’ve been sold by someone else” rather than producing more renewable energy. Also unsuccessful in enhancing community control was OC’s power authority. In June, it received criticism from the Orange County Grand Jury for operating with “inadequate expertise to oversee the very complex decisions involved in energy planning and transactions” and for lacking transparency.
The VoiceofOC reports that the agency board approved over $200 million in power purchases last week “without any public discussion or details of the purchases, which were announced just before the holiday weekend.” As a result, unless the agency agrees to a thorough audit, the county is threatening to leave the organization.
Irvine authorized a limited audit due to concerns about startup costs, and Huntington Beach and Buena Park passed votes of no confidence in the agency’s operations. The only county supervisor to vote against the audit is Don Wagner, who supports this big-government disaster vehemently. He really should know better. Has establishing a new government bureaucracy produced anything besides broken promises and increased costs?