Monday, January 26, 2015

Torrance: Electric Cars and CCA?

The next Torrance city council meeting (January 27th, 2015) will be busy with consent items and appropriations. Two issues stood out for me: electric car charging stations and Community Choice Aggregation.

First, the discussion about the charging stations, all detailed in Planning and Development item 10 A:

10A. Community Development - Award contract for the development of publicly accessible electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Expenditure: $491,624.
Recommendation of the Community Development Director that City Council award a contract to ChargePoint, Incorporated of Campbell, CA for $468,213 with a 5% project contingency of $23,411 to provide, manage and maintain publicly accessible electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the City of Torrance (RFP B2014-30).
10A - STAFF REPORT (64 pages of data!)
Electric vehicles! Really? $491k for electric vehicle charging these vehicles? How many are there in the city? Is there any viable interest in investing in this stuff? The money comes from grants, but what cost will the city bear in the long run for these charging stations?

Why is the city investing in the electric cars? Where will these stations appear? What is the value of implementing these programs, as gas prices are plummeting and even the most ardent of electric car adherents still struggle with getting adequate mileage out of the vehicles? Besides, what about the long-term damage which these vehicles pose through their ongoing use of electricity, which is generated by. . .coal!

Electric cars and electric power for automobiles are driving up the costs of electricity and not helping with pollution.

I would like the city to reject Item 10A.

Electric Cars in Torrance?

Then there's the Community Choice Aggregation:

12B. City Manager - Adopt RESOLUTION to support study of feasibility study of Community Choice Aggregation.
Recommendation of the City Manager that City Council adopt a RESOLUTION to participate in a non-binding study of feasibility of Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) for the City of Torrance.
What is Community Choice Aggregation, anyway?

Community choice aggregation (CCA) is a state policy that enables local governments to aggregate electricity demand within their jurisdictions in order to procure alternative energy supplies while maintaining the existing electricity provider for transmission and distribution services.

There is a disturbing element of power-grab and limitation of local authority in this proposal:

One Design of CCA
Most CCAs are "opt-out" entities, meaning that the customer is by default part of the aggregation unless the customer opts-out. This opt-out arrangement has given community aggregation entities much higher participation rates than utility green power programs. The lowest participation rate for opt-out programs that offer a renewable energy component is around 75%20 compared to the highest participation rates in the low twenties for the most successful opt-in utility green power programs.

How many cities have rejected this proposal? According to one source, two South Bay cities turned down exploring CCA because it would be too expensive.

The San Diego Union-Tribune offered the following:

It’s called community choice aggregation, and it aims to provide ratepayers with cheaper, cleaner energy than our outdated, oversized utilities can provide.
It allows a region to buy electricity wholesale from independent sources and sell it to ratepayers as an alternative to the private utilities. The power is delivered to homes and businesses through the existing grid.
"An alternative to private markets." In other words, a public entity will be taking charge of the energy sources for the city. I have heard these arguments before, how the government would create choices for consumers. The result? Obamacare. The whole CCA sounds more insidious, not less.
According to the Torrance staff report, the city would enter into a joint powers agreement with other cities about energy uses and  needs. Right away, I have a problem with that, because these agreements can be very complicated matters and  created delays. I have already researched what SCROC is dealing with to maintain funding through its current JPA. This power arrangement is dead-on-arrival with me.
I spoke with one of the city council members, and I explained that the city is taking so much time looking into all these potential programs. We can be open-minded to so many things, but the city should spend more time on making it easier for homeowners and business owners to live their lives and expanding their operations. Business fees are a problem, and roads still need repair. The city should not be diverting city staff resources to assessing a feasibility study on alternative forms of energy.
I have spoke with members in other states, including Rhode Island,  where they have addressed Community Choice Aggregation. In the Ocean State, the program is called "RhodeMap RI". My contact Dexter Lieu and a number of citizens in the Ocean State have rejected the program, because the contractual obligations CDBG (Community Development Block Grants) force municipalities to conform with federal dictates, or face heavy lawsuits.
I would say that the city should vote against 12B.
All of this grant money usually comes with strings attached, and the city could face submitting to noxious federal regulations as well as cluttering up the city with these fanciful initiatives. Yet still key concerns are not getting addressed, like the well-being of the streets and public safety for the residents.
The City of Torrance needs to get off the Green agenda, and start focusing on saving the green, as in our taxpayer dollars, and start looking at proposals and reforms to restrain spending, invest in government efficiency, make homeownership less costly and more feasible, and give small businesses a break in building, hiring, advertising, and expansion.


  1. Here is a comment from Jane Smith about Community Choice Aggregation:

    Let's be honest. Everyone here wants clean power, right? Of course. This does nothing of the sort. It literally gets all the electricity from PGE then exchanges some of your money for carbon credits. And if you pay more you get more carbon credits.

    Secondly, the rates are not comparable to either SVP (Silicon Valley Power) nor SMUD (Sacto Munic Util Dist), both in the Bay Area under PGE.

    In fact just look at Marin Clean Power (sister to SCP). They just received an INCREASE of 7% which makes them actually HIGHER than PGE.

    Further, SCP has the tainted Efren Carillo on their board.

    And, SCP is fighting the bill in SACTO right now that would make it an OPT-IN rather than an OPT-OUT therefore bypassing the consumers right to be opted in, instead of a defacto auto-opt in.

    SCP knows most people don't read their mail, so they will be benefitting from consumers who pay zero attention to mail and the elderly. That is abuse.

    Currently the price would be $4.63 cheaper than PGE, but beware, MCP did the same dog & pony show, only NOW MCP consumers are going to pay a 7% rate HIKE (google this). So they are in fact paying MORE than what PGE's rates currently are.

    Then there's the issue of who is going to get rich from this. It won't be us the consumers. Oh and in my PM to this site they asked me to REVEAL YOURSELF BEFORE WE CONTINUE THIS CONVERSATION.

    They now are refusing any and all pm's from me currently. And I'm sure this review will be buried by the people that are getting $ from SCP. Buyer beware.

  2. Electric cars have proven the best solution towards preventing environmental pollution and to save fuel. That is why, I appreciate the use of electric cars but if sufficient number of charging stations won't be available then it's not easy for the citizens to manage. Happy with the decision made by State Union! Truly, it is the perfect for citizens. Thanks for the update.

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