This month Claremont customers of Southern California Edison (SCE) are being asked to choose whether their electricity is to be supplied by SCE, or by the Clean Power Alliance (CPA), which presently includes 29 cities in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Claremont is one of those. We can also choose whether our electricity is to be from 36, 50 or 100 percent renewable sources such as solar panels.
Diving into the details, there was much to learn and consider. First, what is the comparative charge for generating electricity?
I compared my January SCE bill for my single-family residence with what I would have paid under CPA. For SCE, for tier 1 (which is all I use) and about 30 percent renewable energy, the generation charge was 8.47 cents per KWh. The CPA rate (found at cleanpoweralliance.org) with 100 percent renewable energy would be 8.34 cents per KWh — slightly LESS for MORE renewable! If I were to opt for 100 percent renewable from SCE the cost would be 3.5 cents per KWh more.
But the cost to generate electricity is not the whole story: it was only 44 percent of my bill. The cost to deliver the electricity was even more than the generation cost, and that service would still be provided by SCE for customers who move to CPA. And here is more to consider.
SCE contracts for energy generation to meet the demands of its customers. As they move away, SCE is left with “stranded costs” for the energy it will no longer be selling. SCE has applied to the California Public Utilities Commission to add these stranded costs to the charges for those who switch to CPA.
On February 1, the commission was to have made a final ruling on how much, but that has not yet been decided since the amount SCE is requesting is being challenged by several organizations.
So what to do? Those who take no action are automatically enrolled in the CPA at the 50 percent renewables level, but can choose to remain with Edison without penalty for 60 days.
My own choice was easy. I went to the CPA website and chose to stay with them at the 100 percent renewable level. It is a very small contribution to California’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, but if most of us do that, it can be a powerful endorsement of the importance of abating climate change and for sustainability. It also seems cost effective. The “stranded cost” addition is still unknown but can be considered later if need be.
Demystifying Sustainability is an initiative of Sustainable Claremont (susustainableclaremont.org).