Council Moves Forward with Local CCA and Solar Installation

At the December 16 meeting of the Encinitas City Council, they voted 3-1 to approve the Environmental Commission’s CCA Report and Recommendations (Blakespear, Kranz, Shaffer voted Yes, Gaspar voted No, Muir Absent). Mayor Gaspar stated that she stated that there was too much risk with CCAs and did not wish to spend the time and money to study the situation.

The primary action item in the Recommendations is to form a CCA Working Group (CCAWG) to explore the details of starting and running a CCA – the vote was not to actually start a CCA, but mainly to continue to explore the option. As part of her motion to approve the Report, Deputy Mayor Shaffer also volunteered to join the CCAWG. She will meet with City Manager Karen Brust on Monday December 21 to discuss the formation of the CCAWG.

The Council also voted to request city staff to evaluate financing options for installation of solar arrays on city facilities. Two options are being considered. Option 1 installs arrays on four facilities to provide approximately 100% of the electricity that the city uses each year, and Option 2 installs arrays at 18 facilities to provide 400-500% of the electricity that the city uses (the original proposal listed 17 sites, but discussion lead to the addition of the proposed Pacific View art center.

The City spends almost $600K each year on electricity from SDG&E. How much financing would such funds provide?

There is a certain amount of time pressure on the solar installation because 30% federal tax credits are currently available but require that the installation be operational by the end of 2016. These tax credits may be extended, but that won’t be known until next year. The tax credits don’t apply to municipalities, but the spokesman for the contractor 3ffficient mentioned that the city could use a private entity to install the system and claim the tax credit and then sell the system to the city at a reduced price.



12/16: Council to Consider Local CCA and City Solar Installation

In an earlier post I wrote about the City Council’s consideration of the Environmental Commission’s CCA report and its recommendations. A local CCA makes a lot of sense for many reasons, among them providing residents and businesses with cleaner and greener electricity. A CCA is the single quickest and easiest way a city can achieve a step reduction in its greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions.

Also on the Council’s December 16 Agenda is Item 10D, Solar Assessment Report. In this item, the City considers installing solar panels on city facilities to generate electricity for local use. The City hired contractor 3fficient to evaluate the City’s solar potential and to submit a Solar Assessment Report.

3fficient evaluated two options. Option 1 considers solar installations on four buildings, with annual projected electricity generation approximately equal to the City’s annual usage (a “100% offset”). Option 2 considers additional installations to produce up to 5 times the City’s annual usage.

Option 1 uses a 1.3 MW system that would cost about $5.8M and return over $15M in revenue over 20 years (see table on page 7 of the report). The payback period would be under 10 years, especially if 30% tax credits are utilized (page 9). This system includes solar arrays at four City facilities.

Option 2 considers a 6.2 MW system costing $26M and returning $64M over 20 years. This system comprises installations at 17 sites (details on page 7). However, the financial calculations in the page 7 table is misleading and are possible only if a local CCA is created.

The financial calculations strongly depend on the amount the City will receive for the power it generates. That amount is set by AB920, the Net Energy Metering (NEM) Tariff. AB920 is described on the second page of Appendix A.

NEM rules require that the rate paid to a customer for generated electricity is paid at retail rate, up to 100% of that customer’s usage. Production and usage are tallied annually on the “True-Up” date. For example, if a customer uses 1000 KWHr of electricity and generates 1200 KWHr in one year, then for the first 1000 KWHr of electricity, the cost of the electricity used by the customer and the amount paid to the customer are equal.

For the remaining 200 KWHr, the “excess” generation, the NEM rules allow utilities to pay a Net Surplus Compensation (NSC) rate that is generally based on wholesale rates. For SDG&E, that rate is 4.3 cents per KWHr (CPUC NEM Billing).

Option 1, the 100% offset option, the City generates little excess electricity and so it receives retail rate for its electricity. Its revenue from its generated electricity balances the cost of the electricity used. Option 2, the 5x option, generates excess electricity about 4 times greater than is used by the City. For this excess electricity, SDG&E pays the wholesale rate of 4.3 cents/KWHr.

In contrast, if the City had a local CCA, the CCA sets its payback rate. There are many factors that a CC considers when it determines a fair rate to pay for power, but it is generally based on market rates rather than wholesale rates (as noted on page 37 or the report, wholesale rates are only 20-25% of retail rates). For example, California’s two established CCAs (Marin Clean Energy and Sonoma Clean Power) pay one cent above retail rates for locally-generated electricity.

3fficient used a flat rate of 19 cents/KWHr in its calculations for the table on page 7. The City may receive this rate from SDG&E for Option 1, but it will not receive this rate for the excess electricity generated by the 5x array in Option 2. The City may receive this rate from a local CCA. The revenue reflected in the page 7 table is feasible only if a local CCA is created.

Therefore, when a CCA (Item 10A) is coordinated with a City solar installation (Item 10D), the combination is synergistic.

Encourage the Council to approve both of these items !

Encinitas City Council to Review CCA’s 16 December; CAP Update Status

Finally, the City Council is scheduled on 16 December 2015 to review the Environmental Commission’s CCA report and recommendations. The report is available here:

The report gives an overview of existing California CCA’s, their advantages and disadvantages. and various mechanisms that Encinitas could employ should it decide to form its own CCA. It then recommends a few steps the City can take should it wish to further explore the CCA option.

The Council will vote on whether or not to approve the report, and whether to proceed with the recommendations. The main recommendation is to form a CCA Working Group (CCAWG) comprised of staff, recognized experts, concerned residents, and members of the business community.

EPIC has started to update the City’s Climate Action Plan; it did not need explicit Council approval. Currently, the outlook is to complete the update by Spring 2016.

CCA and CAP Reports on City Council’s draft Agenda for October 21 (TBD)

Update on October 2: At this point, the CCA report will probably be delayed until October 28, and it’s likely that the CAP report will be delayed to that date as well. However, the dates are currently uncertain, so keep checking. The City’s website is the most definitive source; check the Council’s Agenda.

The Environmental Commission’s reports for exploring a local CCA and for recommendations for updating the Encinitas Climate Action Plan are on the City Council’s draft Agenda for October 21. The Council will hear presentations on these subjects from the Environmental Commission, then discuss them and hopefully approve them.

The CCA report is available here: CCA Report.

Council approval means that they accept the recommendations, and that staff (via the City Manager) will work towards implementing them. The report does not specify any specific actions or commitment towards implementing a CCA; no feasibility study, no explicit research into forming a CCA implementation vehicle such as a JPA, for example. Therefore, there is little risk in approving this report.

The CAP report is available here: CAP Report.

This report gives recommendations for what should be included in the CAP update; it is not itself an update of the CAP. The CAP update will be done by USD’s Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC), who is experienced in writing CAPs for other cities in San Diego County. As with the CCA Report, Council approval of this report is low risk: there is no cost involved (EPIC has a grant from SDG& for environmental work), and there is no legal commitment to follow the CAP.

Climate Action Plan Update Recommendation Report – Approved!

The Environmental Commission on Thursday 10 September 2014 approved its report with recommendations for the update of the City’s Climate Action Plan. Now that it’s final, that report will be considered by the City Council. Erik Steenblock, senior environmental manager and Commission coordinator, said that it may be on the Council’s Agenda as soon as October or November.

If the Council approves the report, then EPIC will be given the task of updating the CAP. Since EPIC has a grant from SDG&E, the update will be done at no cost to the city.

The CAP update will take at least six months to do, and maybe longer. I (Jim) hope to work with EPIC (most likely, Dr. Silva-Send) in crafting the report.

Update on Environmental Commission Reports on CCAs and CAP

This note is an update on the status of two upcoming Environmental Commission reports.

Local Community Choice Aggregation (CCA): The CCA subcommittee has finished its draft report. Commissioner Bissonette will present to the Commission on Thursday, August 13 (meeting starts at 5:30 PM). I (Jim) believe that there is a good chance that the Commission will approve the report, at which point it becomes a final and official report which is then submitted to City Council for their consideration.

The report recommends that the City actively investigate the CCA option by taking a number of no-cost or low-cost steps, including: 1) Appointment of a CCA Working Group; 2) Contact other cities to assess their CCA interest, and to consider possible partners; 3) Work with staff to research legal and technical vehicles for implementing a CCA, and 4) Start public outreach.

The City Council agenda is pretty full. It’s possible that even after the report is final and submitted, it’ll be so far down their queue that they may not see it until December, or even worse. But if they know that it’s a item that concerns residents, then they’ll be motivated to move it earlier.

The Commission’s draft CCA report is available here: CCA Report

So let them know that you want a CCA! Talk to them, or send them email!

Climate Action Plan Update: I met with city staff on Wednesday August 5 to discuss the draft report I had written. Included were Mike Strong and Diane Lanager, both of whom were instrumental in creating the original Encinitas CAP. We also had Dr Nilmini Silva-Send of EPIC – the City has a contract with EPIC (funded by SDG&E) to update its GHG Inventory and its CAP. We discussed the report and how its implementation depends on what is feasible.

City staff know a lot about feasibility. We felt that the report would be much stronger if we could present it to Council while letting them know that it has the backing of both the Environmental Commission and staff. Therefore, we decided to delay the report for one month while staff reviews the report and adds their suggestions and comments. At the current time, city staff have the Word document and are evaluating it.

The report will likely be presented to the Environmental Commission at their September meeting. If it is approved, then the final version will be sent to Council for consideration.

Minutes of our July 13 ECAC Meeting

Encinitas Climate Action Campaign – July 13 Minutes

Attending: Jim, Alan, Alby, Dwain, Helen, Ed

EEC Report On Updating the Encinitas Climate Action Plan: Jim has finished a draft of the report. Since after the July 9 EEC meeting, he is the sole member of the subcommittee on this item, he will present this report to the rest of the Commission in August. If the Commission approves of the report, it will be submitted to Council.

Comment: The Energy Policy Initiative Center (EPIC) of USD is under contract with Encinitas to update the Encinitas GHG inventory and the CAP. EPIC completed the inventory update and submitted the results to the City in March 2015. Since the new inventory uses a different methodology than the previous 2005 inventory used by the current CAP, EPIC is awaiting a response from Encinitas as to which inventory to use for the CAP update. EPIC’s contract is paid for by the Emerging Cities grant from SDG&E and runs out at the end of the year. Therefore, it’s essential that the City respond to EPIC to get their CAP updated at no marginal cost to the City.

EEC Report on the Pros and Cons of Local Community Choice Energy: Jim finished a draft of the report. It is currently undergoing review and revision by the subcommittee appointed during the July 9 EEC meeting (Leah, Joy, and Jim). The subcommittee expects to have a final draft ready for presentation to the rest of the Commission in August. As with the CAP report, if the Commission approves of the report, it will be submitted to Council for further action. The report recommends a list of no-cost or low-cost actions the Council can take to explore the CCE option.

Comment on the CAP and CCE Environmental Commission reports: if both of these reports are approved in August and forwarded to Council, I (Jim) will be most pleased since it will represent lightning-fast action. These Commissioner-Initiated items were added to the draft EEC Work Plan in April and May and approved by Council in June. In comparison, I wrote a report on why we should ban Styrofoam food containers in April 2013, and Council may consider the ordinance in August 2015 – more than two years later.

Upcoming ECAC Action Plan: The main function for E-CAC for the rest of the summer is to get as many Encinitans educated on the concepts of CAP and CCE as possible. We want to “build our campaign” over the summer, so that we can have many citizens prepared to make good contacts with Council members, and be able to make good, informed comments at the CC meeting when the report is presented. A strong presence of the citizens could influence how the CC adopts the recommendations of the EEC.

ECAC Presentation: We continued to discuss neighborhood “coffee” discussions to introduce our mission. A Powerpoint presentation is being developed, and will be available for all to view and, if desired, uploaded.

Eco-Fest Contact List: Alby and Alan have trimmed the EcoFest contact list down to about 70 names who may have local interest and influence on the CAP. This was a formidable chore and props go out to Alby and Alan. The next step is to follow up with these 70 names, introduce the ECAC and its mission. We agreed to have several of the ECAC members divide this list up and make initial contact. Once contact and rapport have been established, we will seek support of our mission through endorsements, letters, comments to the City Council.

Next ECAC Meeting: Our next meeting will be after the EEC Reports have been presented to the EEC on August 13, so Jim can give up a report of that meeting. Our next scheduled meeting is at 6:30 PM on Monday, August 17, 2015 — same time/place.

Next ECAC Meeting: Monday 17 August at 7 PM

Next ECAC Meeting: Monday 17 August at 7 PM

Come as early as 6:30 for informal get-to-know you chats, not to mention some delicious snacks!


  1. Review of the August 13 Environmental Commission meeting: a) CAP Report, including:
    • Presentation of our report on updating our CAP;
    • Presentation of our report on CCAs
    • Possible Council action
  2. Public outreach efforts
  3. Topics for next meeting
  4. Open discussion

The meeting address: 1309 Windsor Rd. 92007 … my house is the second house up a private driveway. There is limited parking on the driveway, so it’s best to park on the street and walk up the driveway.

We Should Consider Community Choice Energy

Community Choice Energy Gives Choices

SDG&E is the sole source of electricity for San Diego County residents, but Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) are the old-school way – if we elected to have Community Choice Energy, we’ll have choices. And we can even stay with SDG&E. Read more about it in this Letter To the Editor.


Next ECAC Meeting: Monday 13 July at 7 PM

Next ECAC Meeting: Monday 13 July at 7 PM

Come as early as 6:30 for informal get-to-know you chats, not to mention some delicious snacks!


  1. Review of the July 9 Environmental Commission meeting: a) CAP Report, including CAP checklist; b) CCA report
  2. Clean Energy Forum July 30
  3. Topics for next meeting
  4. Open discussion

The meeting address: 1309 Windsor Rd. 92007 … my house is the second house up a private driveway. There is limited parking on the driveway, so it’s best to park on the street and walk up the driveway.