At their next meeting, council members of Irvine city are expected to choose new alternatives for how people can purchase electricity, but it’s unclear how much it is going to cost or whether residents would be able to object. The entire debate revolves around the county’s new community choice energy initiative, which allows local governments to buy and sell power to their inhabitants using the electrical company’s infrastructure.
The OC Power Authority, which includes the cities of Huntington Beach, Irvine, Fullerton, and Buena Park, was established just over a year ago. This means that individual homes can choose how much renewable power they want to buy without affecting others. The exact fees are still unknown because the agency’s board of directors isn’t anticipated to decide them until next month. It’s also unknown whether the plans will be more expensive or less expensive than those offered by Southern California Edison.
Despite the fact that Irvine was the first city to implement the scheme, one council member has expressed reservations about the agency. At the council’s November 9 meeting, Councilman Larry Agran requested a public update on the authority’s progress after the council consented to a debt subordination arrangement, which means that if the agency goes bankrupt, the banks will collect their money first, before the city.
According to city attorney Jeff Melching, if the body fails, the city will not recuperate the almost $8 million it spent to establish it. Agran said he’d requested a presentation since September 30 but couldn’t find anyone else to back him up. “I have major doubts,” Agran stated at the November meeting. “I don’t want to witness any further Irvine investment until we bring OC Power Authority personnel in front of this council.” “I have serious worries about how successful this will be.”
Clean energy supporters have also questioned the agency, citing a lack of openness and concerns about Chief Executive Officer Brian Probolsky, who was appointed despite having no experience managing an electric utility or even a college degree. The agency’s top operational officer recently quit.
While the system cannot regulate the exact balance of power sent to every resident’s home, the more individuals who buy renewable energy, the greater the overall mix of clean energy on Orange County’s grid will be. Currently, Mayor Farrrah Khan, who also serves on the board of the power authority, and Tammy Kim, a Councilwoman, is recommending that all of their citizens start with 70 percent renewable energy, having the option of going up to 100 percent renewable energy, the power authority’s two highest tiers.