Ratepayers may have more energy choices

County supervisor wants to break SDG&E monopoly

SAN DIEGO - For the first time in San Diego County, you could have a choice of where to buy your electricity.

With summer here, temperatures rising and the recent announcement that the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station will be gone for good, all eyes have been on energy.

If you live in San Diego County, your bill comes from San Diego Gas & Electric.

"They are a monopoly in the marketplace right now," said San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob. She wants to change that through community choice aggregation, or CCA.

Instead of buying power solely from SDG&E, local governments could choose from other suppliers, including clean, green energy.

"What we're talking about is bringing competition to the marketplace and giving people choices as to where they buy their electricity," said Jacob.

The county is already able to do this, but it is not available for individual residents.

Proponents say new competition equals more competitive rates and more.

"You can concentrate on local … that means jobs, that means a churn of economic activity because we're putting solar on buildings, doing more energy- efficient here," said Bill Powers, who is with the SD Energy District Foundation.

Marin County was the first in California to operate a CCA through Marin Clean Energy.

The executive director says on average, residential customers actually pay about 90 cents more than they would with PG&E, the main power provider. However, it is a cleaner energy.

Commercial customers, who use more power than the average resident, have a much lower bill with the CCA.

Since they started the program, the executive director says PG&E lowered their rates three different times.

"If someone said we could give you a choice on your energy provider that would provide you with more control on your own energy supply would encourage you to take care of yourself to the extent that you can with solar panels and other things, and do it cost effectively, would you do it?" said Powers.

County supervisors could take up the issue mid-July.

Studies are going on now to look at the potential benefits in San Diego.

10News contacted SDG&E. A spokesperson said, "SDG&E supports a customer's right to choose its electricity service provider, including a CCA."

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