A Clean(er) Energy Future in SM

In their latest column, SMa.r.t. takes a look at the Clean Power Alliance. Photo: Getty Images.

Where do we get our electricity? Until now, from Southern California Edison. But beginning next month, Santa Monica residents will have a second option: The Clean Power Alliance, a collaborative organization of public agencies in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. With this new alternative, we will be able to choose whether to buy electricity from Southern California Edison, or from the Clean Power Alliance.

The CPA buys electric power from various renewable and non-renewable sources and delivers this electricity via Southern California Edison’s wires. This new provider will offer three rate options. Each option will supply electricity from a different mix of renewable and non-renewable sources. The least renewable sources will be the cheapest.

  • Important Point: if residents do not make a choice in advance, they will be automatically assigned to the Clean Power Alliance’s most-renewable tier, which is also the most expensive.
  • Residents who choose one of the CPA’s options (or get assigned to one) can change their option at any time.
  • Residents who changed the automatically-assigned choice back to Southern California Edison can change their selection at any time within the first 60 days. After 60 days, however, they will need to stay with S.C.E. for one year before being allowed to switch.

Clean Power Alliance By the Numbers–Three Rate Tiers:

  • “Lean Power” provides 36 percent renewable energy content at a slightly lower price than Southern California Edison’s typical charge.
  • “Clean Power” provides 50 percent renewable energy content at a price similar to Edison’s.
  • “100 percent Green Power” provides 100 percent renewable energy content. The price is expected to be about 9 percent higher than S.C.E.’s charge.

Why it Matters:

  • This is an opportunity to buy much cleaner, more renewable electric power than was available till now.
  • According to the L.A. Times, in 2017 Edison’s source of power was 32 percent renewable.
  • Even the lowest CPA tier provides cleaner power than Edison’s, at a lower price.
  • We have the opportunity to choose 100 percent renewable power, available for the first time.

How to Choose a Plan:

  • You may do nothing, and your account will automatically be assigned to the highest CPA tier, “100 percent Green Power.”
  • Visit the Clean Power Alliance’s web page to select or change an option: https://cleanpoweralliance.org/rate-options/. Make sure you scroll down the page to see the full array of options and information.
  • Contact the Clean Power Alliance via email: [email protected]
  • Contact the Clean Power Alliance by telephone: (888) 585-3788

Understanding the Bill:

  • Residents who switch back to S.C.E. will continue to receive a monthly bill from that company, as they have until now.
  • Residents choosing a Clean Power Alliance option will still receive a monthly bill from Southern California Edison, but with some changes. The bill will contain two parts:
  • SCE charges for delivering electric power
  • Clean Power Alliance for supply and generation
  • To help understand the bill and its contents, visit the CPA’s web site here:
  • https://cleanpoweralliance.org/customer-support/understand-your-bill/
  • The site contains a sample bill, with all the parts identified and explained.

Go Deeper:

  • Where does the Clean Power Alliance’s clean power come from? A variety of organizations and private companies have been building renewable-energy “farms” throughout California and in nearby states. Most of these are solar and windmill projects that sell their electricity to utility companies. Examples include Terra-Gen (https://www.terra-gen.com) and SPower (https://www.spower.com/project-list-utility.php) among others.
  • Will the prices remain stable? Southern California Edison had a shortfall of almost a billion dollars in 2018, and the company has requested rate increases to private customers and those of the Clean Power Alliance. If approved by the Public Utilities Commission, the rate increases would go into effect in spring of this year, and would be reflected in the Clean Power Alliance’s bills as well as Edison’s.
  • Does the City of Santa Monica have information about the Clean Power Alliance program?
  • See the web site of the Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and Energy: https://www.smgov.net/Departments/OSE/categories/energy.aspx
  • Is more information available about the state’s renewable energy programs? See the California Energy Commission’s web page: https://www.energy.ca.gov/renewables/

Daniel Jansenson, Architect, Building and Fire-Life Safety Commission for SMa.r.t.

Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow: Thane Roberts AIA, Architect, Robert H. Taylor AIA, Ron Goldman FAIA, Architect, Dan Jansenson, Architect, Building and Fire-Life Safety Commission, Samuel Tolkin Architect, Mario Fonda-Bonardi, AIA, Planning Commission, Phil Brock, Santa Monica Arts Commission.