HB Moves Forward on CCA Study

By Dan Jamieson

Huntington Beach will move forward with a study on purchasing electric power for itself and residents through a cooperative.

The City Council on February 3, 2020, voted 5-to-2 to retain Oakland-based MRW & Associates to study the feasibility of forming or joining a community choice aggregator (CCA), including a joint operation with the City of Irvine.

MRW will analyze Huntington Beach’s electricity usage, the potential savings from buying power through a CCA, and the potential of partnering with other cities. The contract with MRW is not to exceed $66,000.

Under state law, cities and counties can set up CCAs, to buy electric power for residents. CCAs are intended to promote competition in the monopoly power business, and most existing CCAs in the area price power a bit below current Southern California Edison rates.

California had 19 CCAs serving more than 8 million customers last year, according to the L.A. Times.

CCAs are also promoted as offering more opportunities to increase renewable energy usage and generate revenue for the CCA operators.

Skeptics, on the other hand, worry about the risks, and question whether local governments should be in the power-procurement business.

(The Daily Pilot has more on the debate at the Council meeting. )

Meanwhile, the California Public Utilities Commission, the state regulator, is still working through the regulatory process for CCAs. https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/customerchoice/ . A big concern is what happens if a CCA gets into financial difficulty, and who would be the provider of last resort in such a scenario.

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