The debate over community choice energy (CCE) continues. There seems to be a lot of confusion due to the fact that there are some serious untruths floating around as to the alleged benefits of community choice. Some of the more flagrant departures from reality are:
• Sustainability—a significant increase in renewable energy generation and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. This is false. Last year renewables produced less than 30 percent of the power consumed in California (California Independent System Operator, aka CAISO), and even that includes a few percent for burning biomass. This year, they will once again produce around 30 percent of the power consumed. Next year, they will likely produce around 30 percent of power consumed. Solar capacity is maxing out, indicated by a steep increase in curtailment, or power oversupply that has declined because there is insufficient demand when it is produced. Therefore, further investment will do little or nothing to increase renewable production and further reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
• Economics—competitive and stable rates. CCEs also help support the local economy through jobs creation and local power development. This is also false: Wind and solar have been subsidized, which is far from competitive and has increased rates. Without subsidies, they could not compete with natural gas, as long as the fracking boom continues. This year the increase in solar capacity has been negligible compared to an average of 15 percent per year before, mainly because renewable investors are no dummies and they know that solar is maxing out. So, what new jobs? Besides, wind and solar only produce part of the time, so no matter how "cheap" they are, something else has to produce most of the power consumed, and that's what will set the rates.
• Customer choice—competition and choice in the local electricity market, providing ratepayers with options about their power supplier and level of clean energy they wish to support. Again, false: Customers receive the same old power as everyone else. Once the electricity is on the grid, who the hell knows where the damn electrons came from. Community choice only gives you the right to pay more to claim that your power is renewable, for what that is worth, which is nothing.
San Luis Obispo