Wednesday, August 12, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 23

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on May 20th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 12 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 12

Buellton considers joining Monterey Bay Community Power

By Zac Ezzone

Two years after opting not to pursue joining a community choice aggregation program, the city of Buellton is reconsidering. 

During its meeting on May 14, the Buellton City Council directed staff to invite a representative from Monterey Bay Community Power—a community choice aggregation agency that’s expanding throughout the Central Coast—to speak with the county about the city potentially joining the group. City Manager Scott Wolfe told the Sun that this conversation could take place during the next City Council meeting on May 28.

Community choice aggregation agencies are governed by a board of directors made up of officials from participating cities and counties. The organizations handle generating and purchasing energy, while leaving companies like Pacific Gas and Electric Company responsible for transmission and distribution. 

One incentive to join a community choice aggregation agency is that rates are usually lower than those from private utility providers, so residents save money on their bills. The public energy provider also relies on a higher percentage of renewable sources of electricity—such as wind and solar—and allocates funding to local renewable energy projects, according to Monterey Bay Community Power.

When the Buellton City Council first took up the issue in 2018, Santa Barbara County was considering creating its own agency. Wolfe said the council at the time felt there was too much uncertainty to move forward. Since then, most cities in the county, and the county itself, have opted to join Monterey Bay Community Power. 

“This agency is already well established, and the county and other cities felt it was a smoother path,” Wolfe told the council.

The council agreed it was worth reconsidering given the size and experience of Monterey Bay Community Power. 

“This one’s been established,” Mayor Holly Sierra said. “I personally think it would interesting to hear what they have to say.”

Currently, Monterey Bay Community Power serves Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito counties, as well as the cities of San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. Next year the agency will begin serving cities in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties that opted to join in 2019. 

Wolfe said Buellton is approaching a deadline if it wants to begin service in 2022. Although, he told the Sun he wasn’t sure on the exact date. Last year, most of the local governments that opted to join Monterey Bay Community Power voted to do so in July and August.

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