City of Lancaster Takes Next Step Toward Becoming a Community Choice Aggregator

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Last night, the Lancaster City Council approved three items which will propel its efforts forward to offer Community Choice Aggregation to its businesses and residents. The Community Choice Aggregator (CCA) Service Agreement with Southern California Edison (SCE) was approved, along with the Electric Service Provider (ESP) Registration Application Form. The latter begins the process of registration with the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) and SCE. With the approval to move forward on these items, the City remains on track to not only implement its CCA ‘Lancaster Choice Energy’ in 2015, but also achieve the ambition of Net Zero status in the future.

“Our City’s goals in the alternative energy arena have always been ambitious, and we are very pleased by how quickly they are coming to fruition,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “Every step we take feeds into the bigger picture of establishing renewable energy as the foundation of local power, and thus community sustainability. Lancaster’s realization of Net Zero status is closer than many think. The Lancaster Choice Energy program will be well underway by this time next year, and we are extremely excited about offering our citizens the power to choose.”

The mission to establish Lancaster Choice Energy officially began on May 13, 2014, when the Lancaster City Council approved the implementation plan which outlined the City’s intent to establish a Community Choice Aggregator. A month later, the approved plan was submitted to the CPUC for review and certification. Final certification is imminent.

The approvals provided at last evening’s City Council Meeting begin the next step in the process of establishing the City’s CCA. The CCA service agreement with Southen California Edison governs the relationship between Lancaster Choice Energy and SCE.

The service agreement identifies SCE as maintaining ownership and responsibility for the transmission and distribution of lines throughout the service area, in addition to ongoing billing and customer service support. This key contractual obligation will ensure minimal impact and maximum ease of use for Lancaster businesses and residents.

The distinguishing feature of the agreement is the CCA’s role in not only providing electrical energy to consumers, but also establishing its own rates for that energy. Essentially, citizens will have the utmost control in weighing the various factors which determine their choice for energy resource. They can remain with Southern California Edison or they can choose Lancaster Choice Energy. The crucial factor with this program is the City is giving them the power to choose.

An added benefit of Lancaster Choice Energy is having local leadership available to address citizen concerns, since the CCA will be administered directly by the City. The current process requires citizens to make appeals to the CPUC in San Francisco when rate and environmental impact issues arise. While this may not pose an inconvenience for some, it is fundamentally important for additional options to be provided to the public. Competition in the local marketplace is always healthy for driving competitive pricing, as well as freedom of choice, particularly in a service category which is a necessity for most everyone.

The availability of Lancaster Choice Energy is fast-approaching. However, additional agreements, such as the Binding Notice of Intent (BNI), will still require approval from the Lancaster City Council. When the BNI is approved and submitted to Southern California Edison in the first quarter of 2015, Lancaster Choice Energy will be officially authorized to provide energy to local consumers. At that time, the City’s three-phase rollout of energy service will commence as follows: Phase 1 – Municipal enrollment in May 2015; Phase 2 – Commercial/Industrial enrollment in November 2015; and Phase 3 – Residential enrollment by November 2016 (if not sooner).