Cities exploring alternatives to SDG&E

Posted at 5:44 PM, Sep 07, 2018

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diegans say they are fed up with receiving outrageously high electric bills.

Some are calling San Diego Gas and Electric a monopoly and would like an alternative option.

Turns out, there's already one alternate system in place in the county, and more could be on the way. 

In June, the City of Solana Beach installed what's called Community Choice Aggregation. The city essentially formed its own utility called the Solana Energy Alliance. The organization buys the energy and sets its own rates. Then, SDG&E delivers it, maintains the lines, addresses technical issues, and bills customers. 

"It really is both a competitive, and a cooperative relationship," said Solana Beach councilman Peter Zahn. 

Zahn said residents and businesses are seeing a 2 to 3 percent discount on the electric generation portion of their bill, but that the savings could continue to grow. 

"As we build up a larger and larger surplus, we can decide to put some of that money into reducing rates, we can put it into other incentives and really assist our residents and businesses," Zahn said. 

Zahn spoke about the model Friday to key stakeholders, mayors and politicians from across the county at UC San Diego. 

Still, there are concerns. 

A spokesman for the Clear the Air Coalition, funded in part by a Sempra Energy Subsidiary, said the programs are risky for taxpayers, have little environmental benefit, and can lead to higher bills to subsidize a government program. 

In Solana Beach, 92 percent of residents and businesses are now getting their energy from the new organization. The other 8 percent opted out, to stay with SDG&E.

The state approved the community choice model in 2002.