Malibu Heading Toward More Energy Independence

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You could soon be powering your house on wind or solar energy—whether or not you install solar panels—thanks to a popular program that Malibu is about to become part of.

Malibu is set to join a rapidly growing movement of cities in Los Angeles County saying goodbye to traditional energy sources.

That’s the result of a unanimous vote by city council last month that took the city one step closer to joining a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program, bypassing energy supplied by Southern California Edison.

The final vote on this decision is expected at the next city council meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 10.

According to information provided by city staffers, the CCA system allows an individual city or a group of cities the ability to purchase energy themselves, rather than going through a supplier such as Southern California Edison.

At the Sept. 25 Malibu City Council meeting, Sustainability Director Craig George explained how the system works.

“The source of the CCA is the buying and building of electrical supply, the delivery is by Southern California Edison and then the customer would be purchasing that energy as a CCA member,” George explained. 

In other words, Malibu—and other cities Malibu aligns itself with—would have the power to negotiate the purchase of energy from various sources. Malibu would receive one vote on a board of however many other cities join together.

“The City of Malibu has the ability to opt in to participate in those programs,” George said, later adding, “And then, as a benefit to the citizens and the businesses of the City of Malibu, if they decided they didn’t want to participate in a CCA, they have the ability to opt out.”

At the time of the September meeting, four cities had joined together to form a group called the LACCE—Los Angeles Community Choice Energy. By December 20, 27 cities had joined.

“I think it’s pretty clear that our city should adopt the LACCE program,” Council Member Laura Rosenthal told her colleagues at the last city council meeting. “Oxnard just did it last night and a lot of cities that are near us—Thousand Oaks, Calabasas, Agoura Hills, West Hollywood, Santa Monica… I think, you know, there’s got to be a reason why they’re all doing it and I think we should join.”

The other incentive for the city to join a CCA program is an anticipated drop in energy costs—though that only comes if the city does not opt into 100 percent renewable energy source options.

“Southern California Edison, with a 33 percent renewable [source], is 17 cents per kilowatt. The CCA is a little bit cheaper,” George described to council at the September meeting. “If the CCA decided to go to a 100 percent renewable [source], the prices go up a little bit more, but … it does provide you with an option that you’re getting all clean, renewable energy.

“If the city wants to send a message that they are a sustainable city and have that option, that’s there, if we choose to go forward with that,” George said.

Current Mayor Skylar Peak and Mayor Pro Tem Rick Mullen were voted in as a representative and an alternate to the LACCE board.