San Diego Ends Electricity Monopoly, Aims for 100% Renewables by 2035

San Diego Ends Electricity Monopoly, Aims for 100% Renewables by 2035

By Steve Horn

SAN DIEGO — San Diego has become one of the largest cities nationwide to adopt a Community Choice Energy program, breaking the monopoly of San Diego Gas & Electric, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy.

The program, sometimes called Community Choice Aggregation, received a 7-2 vote by the City Council at its September 17 meeting, with two conservative members voting in opposition. Proponents of the program say it will help the city achieve a goal of having 100 percent renewable energy on the grid by 2035. But it leaves nuclear energy on the table as an option, which proved a sticking point during negotiations over the legislation, and some say it doesn’t necessarily sputter the use of fossil fuels either.

In California, 18 different cities and/or regions now have community choice energy programs. Nationally, programs exist in six different states, in cities ranging from New York City to Cleveland to Boston to Champaign-Urbana.

The programs are seen by proponents as a way for local governments and the people they represent to have energy choices beyond what is offered by monopoly electricity companies. That often means purchasing more renewable energy, with the goal of cutting climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions.

Policymakers have discussed San Diego’s version in a similar light. One of them is Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who called this the first step toward a “green revolution” in remarks given on the City Council floor before the bill passed.

“It helps us make good on our collective pledge for 100 percent renewable energy use citywide,” said Faulconer, who some have hailed as epitomizing the type of Republican who could make the party viable again in California. “I know that all of us agree that we must leave behind a cleaner and greener world than the one we inherited. All of us agree that we should leave behind the kind of world that we want for our children and our grandchildren.”

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