Lake Forest Residents Could Have The Option To Vote On Where They Get Their Energy

JESSICA RUIZ, Voice of OC

Lake Forest City Hall.

Lake Forest residents may be able to lower their power bills by deciding to switch to a different energy source. 

The City Council on Tuesday will consider holding a stand-alone election for a ballot measure on a Community Choice Energy program, a public electric utility option that allows the city to purchase energy from more sources than just Southern California Edison.

If approved, the question of whether to join the program will be put on the ballot at a stand-alone election on Nov. 9. 

County estimates for a stand-alone election range from $348,273 to $382,957 and a mail-in election would cost the city $216,191 to $250,876, according to a city staff report.

Council members on Tuesday will also discuss submitting questions and concerns relating to Lake Forest joining the newly-created Orange County Power Authority. 

As of now, only four cities have joined Irvine in the power authority, including Buena Park, Fullerton, Huntington Beach, and Lake Forest. Council members from each city serve as a representative on the authority’s board of directors, with Council member Scott Voigts representing Lake Forest. 

The city, which joined the authority in December, has until March 17 to withdraw without penalty, the staff report states. 

The authority’s goal is to “offer rate savings, electricity rate stabilization, local control over energy sources, economic development initiatives, and place more renewable energy onto the grid while supporting programs to reduce energy consumption,” according to the city of Irvine. 

Under a Community Choice Energy program, customers can decide to receive electricity from a utility provider or a local government entity. This also allows them to decide on what type technology to invest in and which customer programs to implement.

At an August Fullerton City Council meeting, Deputy City Manager Antonia Castro-Graham said that transitioning to a Community Choice Energy system could increase city jobs as a system owner can decide to invest in microgrid technology.

Residents and businesses could potentially lower their electricity bills through investments in renewable energy, she said.

Participants in the Community Choice program make decisions regarding the energy system such as where the power comes from, what type technology to invest in and what types of customer programs to implement, Castro-Graham said

The actual price reduction during this transition is uncertain due to the cost of electricity and potential exit fees from Southern California Edison, among other factors. However, an Irvine feasibility study predicts that customers could see at least a 2% reduction in energy bills every month.

Lake Forest residents will be able to express their thoughts to the council on the transition to the new energy system for Tuesday’s meeting.

The meeting is not open in-person but is available to watch live on the city’s website. Public comments can be submitted by emailing [email protected] or by leaving a voicemail message at 949-461-3455 no later than 5 p.m. the day of the meeting (comments received after will be uploaded to the agenda packet to be part of the official record). Emailed comments will not be read at the meeting. Voicemail messages will be played during the meeting and will be limited to three minutes per speaker. E-comments will not be read at the meeting. Voicemail messages will be played at the meeting and will be limited to three minutes, per speaker.