Palmdale approves energy choice rates | News


PALMDALE — The City Council, on Wednesday, approved the initial energy rates for the city’s nascent community choice aggregation program, known as Energy for Palmdale’s Independent Choice, or EPIC.

EPIC will provide electricity to residents and businesses in the city, using Southern California Edison’s distribution system.

This is intended to provide greater local control for energy rates and supplies, with revenues directed back into community programs. Additionally, the city may apply for new funding sources, such as grants, to benefit customers.

The program is set to launch, in October, for residential customers, with commercial and industrial customers expected to join, in March, Palmdale Energy Resources Manager Tammy Salt said.

Customers are automatically enrolled in the program, but they may choose to opt out.

The rates approved by the Council are for the energy itself; Customers will see an additional charge for SCE’s distribution on their utility bills.

These rates were set based on projected power supply costs, budgeted administrative and overhead costs, reserve fund targets and energy programs, according to the staff report.

While they will typically be set as part of the budget process, rates may require minor adjustments from time to time. These adjustments may not be more than 5% higher than SCE’s total rate or more than 5% higher or lower than the rate currently in effect, according to the staff report.

The EPIC rates use the same categories as SCE, and include summer and winter, peak and off-peak subcategories.

In addition to the standard rate schedule, customers may chose to pay a premium to ensure all the energy purchased for their home is created without producing greenhouse gases, Salt said.

EPIC will pay those customers who produce solar power themselves and sell excess to the grid a higher rate than what Southern California Edison offers, at six cents per kilowatt hour instead of four cents, Salt said.

EPIC will purchase the electricity from a variety of contracted sources through the CalChoice joint powers authority, which pools the buying power of its member entities. These sources do not include the City of Lancaster, as has been rumored.

The city started the CalChoice joint powers authority; the City Council serves as its board, and City Manager Jason Caudle is executive director.

Six other cities are members of CalChoice, in addition to Lancaster. The City Councils of each member is responsible for setting rates for their city’s own CCA program, purchasing their energy and contracting their services through existing CalChoice contracts.

A number of programs are available through CalChoice to support devices to improve energy efficiency, as well as electric vehicle chargers and batteries for dwellings.

The rates were approved on a 3-1 vote, with Mayor Steve Hofbauer absent and Councilmember Laura Bettencourt dissenting. Bettencourt noted she has opposed this program from the beginning.

Notices about the program launch will begin being sent to residential customers in August, Salt said. At that time, a website will be available with the full rate schedule and a mechanism for residents to opt out.

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