Imperial Beach Residents Switch to ‘Community Choice’ Energy

As Imperial Beach rocks this month, La Mesa will make the switch in March; Encinitas in April; and the cities of Chula Vista and San Diego in May

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. — As frustrated San Diegans continue to deal with rising SDG&E bills, they now have an alternative when it comes to their source of electricity.

Starting this week, residential customers in Imperial Beach are upgrading to San Diego Community Power for their electricity.

This “community choice” energy program, which will eventually extend to much of the county, offers electric power at slightly better rates, generated from more renewable sources.

While businesses have already made the transition, residential customers are now beginning the switchover, starting with IB: a change that is above all a matter of choice.

“The portion we control is quite small, maybe a quarter of your total bill,” said Cody Hooven, chief operating officer of San Diego Community Power. “But we’re trying to have a really big impact there.”

To help make this impact, San Diego Community Power provides its customers with electricity from at least 50% renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar.

This compares to SDG&E’s electricity, which is 31% from renewable sources. Hooven also said its product was 1-2% cheaper than SDG&E’s.

“So you get 19% more renewable energy and it’s a bit cheaper,” she added. “What’s not to like?”

While San Diego Community Power is in charge of purchasing power, SDG&E will still be in charge of other areas, such as power transmission, distribution and customer billing.

Already, more than half of California’s population has access to one of these “community choice energy” programs, such as San Diego Community Power.

This number is expected to grow to 80-90% in the next few years, offering renewable energy at a competitive price, while operating as a non-profit organization.

“Any excess income we generate is plowed back into the communities we serve,” Hooven told CBS 8. “We’re not here to make a profit. We don’t have shareholders.”

While customers will be automatically enrolled in San Diego Community Power, they can opt out if they wish, simply by going online to their website.

Customers can also choose to “subscribe” and receive energy from 100% renewable sources.

“For the typical residential customer, it’s just a few dollars more per month,” Hooven said.

While Imperial Beach’s residential customers change this month, La Mesa will make the change in March; Encinitas in April; and the cities of Chula Vista and San Diego in May.

Additionally, owners of homes with rooftop solar panels will not be negatively affected, according to Hooven.

“In fact, we actually offer a slightly better incentive,” she said. “If they have excess solar that they sell back to the grid, we buy it at a slightly higher price.”

For SDG&E customers who currently receive a discount, such as through income-based or medical-based programs, they will continue to receive the same discount through San Diego Community Power, according to Hooven.

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