Correction: This story has been edited to correct Central Coast Community Energy's name.
San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay's default electricity provider has a new name and a new plan for renewable energy, as it gears up to start servicing most Central Coast residents and businesses next year.
Effective Sept. 8, Monterey Bay Community Power is now Central Coast Community Energy. The name change reflects the agency's recent expansion south, which began with SLO and Morro Bay in 2020 and will cover most of SLO and Santa Barbara counties, from Paso Robles to Carpentaria, by 2021.
- File Photo By Jayson Mellom
- NEW NAME Central Coast Community Energy is the new name for Monterey Bay Community Power, as the agency expands to SLO and Santa Barbara counties.
As one of more than 20 community choice energy (CCE) agencies operating in California, Central Coast Community Energy purchases power for its ratepayers, while PG&E continues delivering the electricity. Customers can also opt out and continue with full PG&E service.
Central Coast Community Energy's expansion will make it the largest CCE by geographic area in the state, responsible for more than 400,000 customers. It launched in 2018 in Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito counties. Unincorporated SLO County and Atascadero are the two municipalities that haven't joined Central Coast Community Energy.
"This is a good fit for everyone," Santa Cruz County Supervisor Bruce McPherson said in an email to New Times about the expansion. "We do not expect to expand beyond this five-county region."
McPherson also chairs the agency's multi-jurisdictional policy board.
"Our counties share a similar coastal weather pattern," he said, "and our economies are focused on agriculture, tourism/entertainment, high technology, and education, with a University of California, California State University, or California Community College campus in each of our counties."
With the name change, Central Coast Community Energy also announced a 10-year plan to achieve 100 percent renewable energy. The utility currently offers 31 percent renewables—a portfolio nearly identical to PG&E's—at a slight rate reduction.
Under the new plan, officials promise a path to 60 percent renewables by 2025 and 100 percent renewables by 2030—15 years sooner than California's mandate—all at continued lower rates.
That will be accomplished by divesting from hydroelectric power sources and investing in "low-cost renewable energy and energy storage technologies," according to a Sept. 8 agency press release.
"Because the cost of renewable energy is at an all-time low while carbon-free attributes have increased five-fold in the past three years, this new approach would also reduce Central Coast Community Energy's energy supply costs by up to $10 million a year," the press release stated.
In the past two years, Central Coast Community Energy has partnered with fellow CCE Silicon Valley Clean Energy on multiple long-term renewable energy contracts worth more than $1 billion, mostly for solar, solar plus storage, and geothermal.
McPherson said that investments in energy storage will be critical looking forward. The need for more storage capacity statewide has been at the center of recent discussions over heat-wave-driven electricity shortages and shutoffs.
"Like all power providers, we need to increase storage capacity so we can provide electricity with more assurance in times of high demand," he said. Δ