Grover Beach, Paso Robles vote to join Monterey Bay Community Power



The Grover Beach and Paso Robles city councils took their first official steps to join Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP) the week of May 20—kicking off what's expected to be a countywide exodus from PG&E to the northernly public electricity provider over the next few months.

Both city councils voted to adopt first readings of ordinances to join MBCP. If finalized, they'll be the third and fourth cities to do so, along with SLO and Morro Bay.

Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Santa Maria, and Guadalupe, as well as SLO County, have upcoming meetings to consider joining the burgeoning Community Choice Energy (CCE) agency currently serving Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito counties.

"I applaud you for your leadership," J.R. Killigrew, director of communications for MBCP, told the Grover Beach City Council on May 20. "I know both the Five Cities and [SLO] County, as well as Guadalupe and Santa Maria, are looking for someone to take the first step. I think with that momentum we will be able to unify the Central Coast."

Starting its service in 2018, MCBP is one of 12 California CCEs operating in PG&E territory. Governed by a board of directors comprised of local elected officials, a CCE handles energy purchasing and leaves PG&E responsible for distribution.

MBCP has a carbon-free energy portfolio and matches PG&E's rates while also providing 3.7 percent rebates to customers in 2018-19. It has $57 million in reserves, according to Grover Beach.

Customers can choose between MBCP or PG&E, but they're opted in to MBCP by default.

As MBCP picks up new territory throughout the region, it's considering rebranding with a Central Coast theme and opening a satellite office in SLO County.

Local cities view joining MBCP as an opportunity to save electricity costs and go in a greener direction. According to a Paso Robles staff report, city ratepayers are set to save an estimated $4 million over five years as part of MBCP.

"The projected savings are especially important now, as PG&E's costs for transmission and distribution are going to rise sharply as a result of the recent fires and other problems," the Paso staff report read.

If all of SLO County were to join, MBCP estimates that total cost savings for residents and businesses would surpass $30 million between 2021 and 2025.

In order for MBCP to meet deadlines necessary to begin service in SLO County starting 2020 and 2021, localities must finalize their decisions by July 31.

County supervisors, who decided to abandon a local CCE formation effort last year, will meet on June 18 to discuss whether to include SLO's unincorporated areas in MBCP.

"I don't really see a downside to this," Grover Beach City Councilmember Karen Bright said on May 20. "You can opt out. Everyone has an opportunity—you can participate or not." Δ

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