Riverside County may become electric utility for unincorporated areas

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Sometime in the future, your electric provider may be Riverside County rather than Southern California Edison.

At its Aug. 23 meeting, the Board of Supervisors authorized the county executive to pursue investigating the possibility of establishing a community-choice aggregation program.

In 2002, the state authorized local governments to procure or develop electrical power for themselves, or their residents and businesses. In the 14 years since the law (Assembly Bill 117) was enacted, only four CCAs have been established and are active in the state.

A CCA purchases electricity from an existing investor-owner utility, such as SCE. The power is delivered over existing electrical lines, which the utility owns. All electricity billing, meter reading and customer service continues to be the responsibility of the utility, according to the memorandum to the board from Deputy County Executive Officer Brian Nestande.

The preliminary estimate is that Riverside County could aggregate the purchase of enough electricity to save county ratepayers about 9 percent annually. The total savings would be about $7.75 million, and shared between residential and commercial customers.

The county’s consultant estimated that the average single domestic user could save about $54.50 annually. According to the report, “the average usage per account in Riverside County’s domestic accounts is among the highest in the SCE territory,” which increases the potential savings.

These estimates were based solely on electric usage in the unincorporated areas, and do not include power consumed in any of the cities or areas where a municipal or other public agency is already providing service. Electric customers can choose to opt out of the CCA.

Rather than managing the CCA itself, the board approved a request for proposal from potential contractors to plan and implement the entity. This also will provide the board with specific rate information and potential city participants. The preliminary study did not include administrative costs, which the response to the RFP will provide.

With the plan and a board ordinance authorizing the establishment of a CCA, the county can seek California Public Utility Commission approval, Nestande told the board last month. The board sees the lower electric rates as an incentive for new businesses to locate here.

The board unanimously approved issuing the RFP. During the discussion, Supervisor Marion Ashley (5th District) said, “This is a great thing we’re doing and will really save the people of the unincorporated areas a lot of money.”

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  1. […] Riverside County May Become Electric Utility For Unincorporated Areas, by J.P. Crumrine, Idyllwild Town Crier, September 7, 2016. […]

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