Residential Energy Choices

Cleaner energy is coming to Del Mar! The Del Mar City Council approved the default electricity product offered by the Clean Energy Alliance (CEA) at their March 15th Council meeting: the choice was 50% renewable/75% carbon-free (mainly hydroelectric) sources, matching the default products in Solana Beach and Carlsbad. The default electricity offering means that you will be automatically enrolled with this energy choice unless you choose another option. This default product is still less expensive by about 65 cents per month for the average customer than the current 39% renewable product offered by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). Del Mar residents will be automatically enrolled in the CEA service in May or June at the default product price unless they choose to opt down to the 50% renewable product, opt up to the 100% renewable product at an extra charge of $2-3/month, or opt out and remain with SDG&E as their electricity provider.


Some myths about CEA and the other 20 Community Choice Aggregation providers have resurfaced. Here are a few:


  • One is that if electricity costs go up, CEA bills will no longer be less than SDG&E. This is false, since higher wholesale energy prices will impact the bills for all energy providers.
  • A second argument is that increasing use of solar and wind power will drive up costs because of competition for limited energy sources. The opposite has proven true; more demand has led to more incentives to build renewable energy generators.
  • Some have argued that SDG&E shareholders will suffer if many customers (including those in San Diego enrolling in San Diego Community Power) leave their service. False again; SDG&E shareholders are guaranteed a fixed rate of return on investment by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Much of your monthly bill (which will still come from SDG&E) is for transmission and distribution of electricity, and generation of electricity must be charged at its cost.
  • In addition, some have expressed concern that the exit fee (or PCIA, the power charge indifference adjustment) will go up with time and increase rates for CEA customers. The PCIA reimburses SDG&E for long-term power purchase agreements to serve customers who are now leaving their service. As these power purchase agreements expire, the PCIA charge will go down although it may take a few years to disappear. There are also proceedings at both the CPUC and bills in the legislature to change the way the PCIA is calculated since SDG&E can still sell the unused energy and collect twice for the same power supply.
  • A final argument against local control of your electricity supply is that municipal governments are inept at managing services. Your water supply, sewer, and waste pickup are all managed by Del Mar, and the most common complaint is that the city is slow to fix potholes. SDG&E remains responsible for all transmission infrastructure, so the sole role of CEA is buying cleaner electricity at a competitive price. We all stand to benefit including our children and grandchildren, who will inherit a cleaner planet.