Stanton could be the next city to move toward changing the way residents get their energy.
City Council members at their next Tuesday meeting will discuss joining a Community Choice Energy (CCE) program, where officials would buy and sell their own energy directly, as opposed to going through investor-owned utility Southern California Edison.
Meanwhile a number of cities have debated the idea for months. And a few, led by Irvine, have already opted into the program and formed the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA).
Lake Forest, on the other hand, opted out last week.
The City Council there voted 4-1 decided on Tuesday last week to leave the authority despite residents’ calls to stay in the agency.
It came two months after the council initially voted to join the OCPA.
The motion to leave last Tuesday was made by Mayor Neeki Moatezedi, while Moatezedi – who has drawn questions because she works for So Cal Gas – had voiced concerns over the idea she voted in support of it last year
“The way it is designed doesn’t give us a benefit as a founding member at all,” she said about the governing structure of the agency last Tuesday. “It doesn’t hurt us to withdraw now and join at a later time.”
Before the city joined the Orange County Power Authority, residents publicly raised concerns about Moatazedi’s employment with the Southern California Gas Co. and said she should recuse herself from the vote.
Meanwhile, other cities like Santa Ana are still in the consideration phase. Council members in Santa Ana heard a report on the idea from staff in early February, though staff and council members voiced interest in waiting a few years before taking action.
Proponents of the program say it could lower residents’ electricity bills and provide new pathways to bolstering the use of cleaner, greener and eco-friendly energy throughout the region.
Currently, SCE is the dominant supplier of the county’s electricity. SCE would still deliver the electricity, though cities would now be buying energy directly from the source, like solar or wind.
“The climate crisis is already affecting us right here in Lake Forest with increasing damage in wildfires just this past year,” a resident and UC Irvine student said in her public comment. “The residents have nothing to lose from Lake Forest remaining in the (program) as it only provides each resident the choice to use a renewable energy provider.”
In Stanton, staff have prepared a report on the CCE movement and the political developments in Orange County for council members’ review.
Staff say “some savings may be realized” if Lake Forest joined a CCE, due to “potential reduced costs for electricity.”
“It is unknown how much staff time would be involved in the administration of a program and how much this would cost the City,” staff wrote in the report.
Brandon Pho is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member at Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @photherecord.