SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- San Diego will begin building its alternative to San Diego Gas & Electric, which it says could lower bills by about 5 percent.
The City Council voted 7-2 Monday to begin creating what's called a Community Choice Aggregator -- an energy company that would help the city reach its goal of reaching 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.
San Diego will begin approaching approaching other cities in this county, and Orange County, to create a region-wide provider. The idea is the more cities involved, the more negotiating power the city will have to buy energy to sell to residents.
"Community Choice Aggregators can and will save money, but the people will bear the real consequences and reap the benefits of the decisions you're making are their children and grandchildren," John Atcheson, a Rancho Bernardo resident, told the council Monday.
In a statement, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said this would give San Diegans a choice when it comes to how they get their power.
"For decades San Diegans have only had one option on where they get their electricity," Faulconer said. "Community Choice will change that by injecting healthy competition into the marketplace, allowing customers to benefit from lower energy costs, and pick greener energy sources to power their home or business."
The move is not without risks.
Councilman Scott Sherman voted against the plan, noting the city's recent trouble with its existing utility, the water department. The department is undergoing major transformation after an audit found thousands were billed incorrectly.
Plus, start-up costs could be as much as $10 million, and residents would have to pay exit fees to SDG&E.
A spokeswoman for SDG&E said it fully supports the city in creating the alternative. The mayor's office said it would give updates every two months starting in April.
The city hopes to launch the new service in 2021.
Councilman Chris Ward issued the following statement Monday:
San Diego is a leader in identifying forward-thinking solutions and opportunities to fight climate change, and today’s action continues this legacy. The crisis of global warming demands that we immediately act to fulfil our climate goal of 100% renewable energy by 2035. The City of San Diego now has authorization to negotiate with regional cities and jurisdictions to create a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) that will deliver affordable, clean, and renewable energy to consumers. We have heard overwhelmingly from community stakeholders that this major investment in clean energy infrastructure should also be an investment in high-quality local jobs that lift up our entire region, and I’m excited for San Diego to rise to this once-in-a-generation opportunity.