IRVINE, Calif. — A group made up of four cities in Orange County has formed to give ratepayers more choices when it comes to the energy used in homes and businesses. Huntington Beach, Irvine, Buena Park and Fullerton have started a community choice energy (CCE) program called the Orange County Power Authority.
Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan explains the move would give cities buying power when it comes to energy. Khan said through the CCE, “We get to decide where our energy’s coming from, whether it’s going to be coming from renewable sources, how much are we going to go toward renewable sources.”
Currently, she said those decisions are made by Southern California Edison. Mayor Khan said the authority would also have the power to set rates and keep revenues. According to Irvine’s 2019 feasibility study, the move could help ratepayers save money because it would bring competition among electricity sellers.
“The cost-savings we’re looking at a reduction of anywhere between 2-4%," said Khan.
She said for the city of Irvine, “When we did our feasibility study, we found out that it would be about $112,000 annually that we will be saving.”
Mayor Khan said SCE will still deliver the power through its grid.
Critics of the program said the study was based on old data and energy markets are constantly changing.
For businesses like Primal Elements in Huntington Beach, the OC Power Authority could provide an opportunity that President Scott Freeman said he’s excited about.
“It would make us more energy independent. And also gives us both the opportunity to save the environment and save money," said Freeman.
Freeman and his family have been running the business since 1993. Primal Elements makes personal care goods such as soap, candles and body care products. At first, the couple made soaps in Freeman’s grandmother’s kitchen. They expanded and moved their operations to a large space in Huntington Beach.
“One thing I learned in business is, you can never be satisfied with what you have now. You always have to try to make things a little better all the time,” Freeman said.
And he said the potential cost savings is an opportunity he supports. He called it a “win-win.”
Critics worry the program may not deliver as much clean energy as promised. But Freeman remains supoortive.
Residents will be automatically enrolled in the program unless they opt-out. The planned start date would be April 1, 2022, for non-residential accounts. Residential accounts are expected to begin Oct. 1, 2022.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect amount of cities that have started a community choice energy (CCE) program called the Orange County Power Authority. The errors have been corrected. (Nov. 16, 2021)