As a member of Atascadero's City Council, I would like to respond to a recent letter to the editor regarding "Elected officials should have done basic research" (Aug. 8). The letter implied that "the council wasn't doing its job" when it delayed voting on the proposal for community choice energy. I don't think most citizens understand that if the City Council had decided to participate in Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP), everyone living within the city limits would automatically be enrolled in MBCP unless they individually opt out. This is a big decision, and it affects every resident of the city.
The council asked many questions at the meeting, but several were not answered. Here's a few of the questions that were asked:
• Why was PG&E not allowed to answer council questions about the MBCP (I called PG&E and was told that they couldn't talk about it)? It would be helpful to hear from both energy providers before making a decision.
• The representative from Monterey Bay clearly stated that there were three categories of green energy available to the city and its citizens: 35 percent green energy, 50 percent green energy, or 100 percent green energy. They were unable to explain how this would actually work when there isn't enough green energy available yet on the grid. Would they have to supplement it with "dirty energy" such as coal, nuclear, natural gas powered, etc.?
• How will MBCP separate the energy in the transmission lines, with 35 percent green energy sent to one home and 100 percent green energy to an adjacent home? Don't they share the same power line?
• If the city "opts in" and asks for 100 percent green energy, would all of our citizens be automatically enrolled in the 100 percent category unless they request a different amount or opt out?
• Is a rebate given to all customers, or only to those selecting 35 percent green energy? Will the 100 percent green energy actually be more expensive than power from PG&E?
• If San Luis Obispo county decides not to participate in the program (they haven't made that decision yet) will the MBCP be economically viable without it?
Rebates are great, and competition between energy providers is a good thing. However, glib answers and a high-pressure presentation isn't enough. The devil is always in the details, and asking for more information doesn't imply that the council hasn't done its homework or that they'd "rather not discuss it." To the contrary!
City Council member