Citing the “profound environmental impact” it will have, the South Pasadena City Council on Wednesday February 16, 2022 will act to increase to 100 percent the “default” amount of power commercial electric consumers in town get from renewable resources. Currently, only 50 percent of the power these customers receive from the Clean Power Alliance is guaranteed renewable.
The change in the “default” commercial tariff, which would take effect next October, will add approximately $5 to small commercial customers’ monthly electric bill, according to the city report.
Consumers can at no-cost opt out of the higher level but must take affirmative action to do so. And that’s the rub for some. “It’s a stealth tactic,” said former mayor Odom Stamps. “I don’t like the idea that there is a default unless one is educated enough to opt out of sneaking in a rate increase. It really should be you affirm by opting in, not get stuck because you didn’t have a heads up.”
The item is on the Council’s consent agenda, meaning it will be approved without discussion unless a council member or member of the public asks that the item be “pulled” for discussion and comment.
In a letter to the Council, citizen Chris Bray called out the item’s placement on the consent agenda. “Do you govern through persuasion and consensus, or do you govern through preemption and coercion? If you believe that the best choice local businesses can make is to transition to the CPA’s 100% green energy plan, make that argument to local businesses.”
South Pasadena Council Member Diana Mahmud, who chairs the Clean Power Alliance, made a presentation about the change to the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 25. CPA supplies power to consumers in South Pasadena and 32 other cities, half of which are already at 100 percent renewable. Power is delivered over Southern California Edison transmission lines. SCE also handles billing.
In a staff report, the city said the action provides an easy way for businesses to join the city’s commitment to and leadership in sustainability. Full participation will avoid 16.3 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of removing 7,400 cars from the streets.
In addition, businesses can with “minimal financial impact” get the benefits of CPA’s Green Leader Program, such as media recognition, promotional decals, “web badges” and listing in CPA’s Green Leaders directory.
CPA, which took over service to South Pasadena’s commercial customers in May 2019, has 1,369 commercial accounts in South Pasadena. Since being defaulted into CPA service at the 50 percent renewable level, most of these have remained. But 17 opted for CPA’s 40 percent renewable supply option, while 106 elected to go to 100 percent.
Most of South Pasadena’s 10,322 residential electric consumers have been served by CPA at the 100 percent renewable level since February 2019. Since then, only about 5 percent have elected to downgrade, including 399 who opted for the 40 percent renewable supply and 78 who went to 50 percent. If approved, the city said further information about the changes, including how to opt out, will be provided through multiple city communication channels.
In addition to the rate impact of the change in CPA default service, South Pasadena electric consumers may later this year also face a roughly 50 cent per month increase in their energy tax costs– if the city elects to settle its ongoing utility user tax lawsuit against Southern California Edison along the same terms as a recent settlement SCE reached with the city of Torrance in a similar case.
According to a Feb. 3 update provided by CPA chief operating officer Matt Langer, CPA residential customers bills are expected to decline by an average of 6.6 percent, or about $11/month, starting next month, at which time every CPA product will be less expensive than SCE.
More information on the change to 100 percent renewable can be found at CleanPowerAlliance.org/rate-options.