WEATHER WATCH
California city nixes 100% renewable energy plan, projected to save $200k annually
FILE: Okeechobee Clean Energy Center in Florida (WPEC)

A city council in California is shifting away from a 100% renewable energy plan, a move that could save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

On Jan. 17, the Huntington Beach City Council voted to change the city's plan with the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA), a non-profit public agency that says it offers "green" and "clean" energy to customers in California.

The change will save Huntington Beach more than $200,000 annually when it comes to paying for its over 450 municipal accounts with OCPA, according to city officials.

OCPA reportedly started out wanting to offer affordable green energy to customers, but since then, it has "remained in the news for all the wrong reasons," according to the Los Angeles Times.

Since its inception, OCPA has remained in the news for all the wrong reasons, repeatedly discrediting itself and its mission," the LA Times's Tony Strickland writes.
Any government organization that begins with serious questions of leadership qualification, basic transparency failures, early executive resignations, city investigations, county investigations, state investigations, grand jury reports and even whistleblower complaints needs more than just a look in the mirror," Strickland added. "Anything short of wholesale change shows a rubber stamping of the status quo."
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Meeting notes show that officials had three options for potentially changing the city plan with OCPA for both customer and municipal accounts. 

The first option was to change nothing and stick with the 100% renewable energy plan. The other two options were between OCPA's "Smart Choice" and "Basic Choice" plans, which offered at least 69% and at least 38% renewable energy, respectively.

City staff also noted that an option to shed OCPA completely was under consideration, but added that additional evaluation and study sessions need to occur before that decision can be made.

Huntington Beach City Council voted 4-3 to approve the "Basic Choice" option, but before that, some citizens voiced concerns over the decision.

One resident said that the decision "seems to be a financial decision with little consideration for the environment," and that "it would be appropriate to remove any references that claim that the city is a ‘Green’ city."

Councilman Casey McKeon, who motioned for the vote at the meeting, said that savings from the switch would be better used on other city projects, like enforcing laws regarding homelessness.

Orange County, California supervisors have reportedly already voted to completely drop OCPA.

I was so hoping that I didn’t have to make this vote today, but at the end of the day it just boils down to trust and transparency to me,” Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said on the day of the vote to completely shed OCPA, according to the LA Times.
I don’t trust the information, and I don’t trust that we will be able to fix what I think are systematic operation problems [within OCPA]," Foley reportedly added. "I don’t see that the rates are lower for renewable, sustainable energy and I don’t think that it is working."

Following the Orange County vote, OCPA officials reportedly said they were disappointed in the decision, and that withdrawing from their services "removes consumer choice and market competition, adds dirty power to the energy grid, raises rates, and creates an unnecessary liability for the county."

Following an earlier audit of OCPA, the green energy company reportedly announced rates with its Basic Choice plan would be cheaper than competitors by about 2% by mid-January.

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