There are three things you need to know about the revolution in the way energy is produced and distributed in California after Assembly Bill 117 was voted in 2002.
First, the Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) has become the best tool available to California communities to increase local renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Second, it is a threat to the energy monopoly previously enjoyed by power companies, and they have responded to it. Third, this would never have happened in our part of the country without a sustained effort on the part of many people eager to overturn the status quo.
Four years after AB 117 passed, with nothing happening in SLO County, the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club decided to put the community’s energy of choice on the local radar. With SLO Green Build, ECOSLO, Cal Poly College of Architecture, former County Supervisor Jim Patterson, SLO Chamber of Commerce, Home Builders Association, Coast National Bank, and Air Pollution Control District, we are committed to six months of event planning.
The resulting Smart Energy Solutions Summit was the exit party for the community’s choice in SLO. Over 300 people filled the vets room to hear our keynote speaker, Paul Fenn, author of the California CCA Act, state that “CCA would not only be good for the environment, it would probably be the best.” something that could happen to the environment in this community over the past hundred years.
The Texas Public Citizen representative said, “CCA means you can start your own community-owned power company. Suddenly you can make radically different choices. ”
The representative of the Community Environmental Council of Santa Barbara said that it was “a miracle solution as we did”.
In 2007, we followed up with a regional energy planning meeting in Cal Poly with over 100 local elected officials, planners, city directors and community leaders. CCA was at the center of the discussion. In his remarks, Alex Hinds, Director of Community Development for Marin County and former Director of Planning for SLO County, said, “The CCA is the most promising thing we have in Marin to really increase our energy use. renewable.
Meanwhile, the Cal Poly campus sustainability clubs came together to form the Empower Poly Coalition with the goal of establishing Cal Poly as a state academic leader in clean energy and green building. In 2008, the Sierra Club signed a contract with Paul Fenn’s Local Power, who agreed to hire several Empower Poly interns and loan them to us, which allowed us to organize four energy town halls in six months, in across the county, to get the word out on local energy.
At the last town hall, which was held at Grover Beach in the summer of 2009, we invited Dave Erickson, technical director of the Sonoma Climate Action Plan, for a week of meetings with planners and managers to make the concept understood. of the ACC, face to face. Take home message: “We are using community choice to achieve the country’s most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction, but Sonoma might as well have called our climate action plan a jobs plan,” or a green economic stimulus plan, or an energy independence plan. ”
In 2010, as the county was updating its general plan, the Sierra Club submitted the text that became policy E 1.2: “Assist more local control over decisions and energy sources” and “Evaluate the aggregation of community choices to determine if community choice would be a cost – An effective and low risk strategy to increase the use of renewable energies and achieve a local low carbon energy portfolio. ”
In October 2011, Bill McKibben of 350.org came to town and electrified (see what I did there?) a crowd at the Fremont Theater. Subsequently, SLO Transition Towns convened focus groups to discuss how we could do our part to help address the challenge of climate change in each of the areas covered by McKibben. The Transition Towns energy group became the SLO Clean Energy Economy Coalition–who, through several name changes and membership morphing, focused like a laser beam on building a community energy program of choice in San Luis Obispo County.
This laser-like focus resulted in membership in our Regional Energy Program of Community Choice for Everyone in San Luis Obispo County with two exceptions: the town of Atascadero and the unincorporated areas. county, thanks to a majority on the city council and county supervisory board who have consistently refused to join the rest of the state in its energy future and denied their constituents the benefits of community choice.
And what, you will ask yourself, are the benefits that you receive (or that you don’t receive but might receive), depending on your location?
Glad you asked. Sign up to virtually attend the Sierra Club Section Santa Lucia General Assembly on Wednesday, September 22 at 7 p.m., with Oswaldo Martinez, Energy Public Engagement Associate for Central Coast Community Energy ( 3CE), to present their service offers. , updates on energy programs, energy data tools, events and resources, and answers to all your questions. Subscribe to this Zoom event or send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. ??
Andrew Christie is the director of the Santa Lucia chapter of the Sierra Club. Send feedback via email@example.com.