Power lines stretch to apartments on the 6200-block of Milton Ave. in Whittier, on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. By end of this year, Whittier residents will be getting their electricity from a joint powers agency, not Southern California Edison.(Photo by Keith Durflinger, Whittier Daily News/SCNG)
A year from now, Whittier businesses and residents will not be getting their electricity from Southern California Edison but a new agency.
Although a joint powers authority — comprised of about two dozen cities in Los Angeles County — would provide the power, Edison will continue to bill the Whittier-based customers directly.
The City Council voted 4-0 last week to join the so-called Los Angeles Community Choice Energy Joint Powers Authority. Its cost to consumers could be slightly cheaper — maybe as much as 1 or 2 percent less — and significantly more of the electricity will be derived from renewable sources, such as solar or wind, city officials said.
“This will lower the costs and step into sustainable energy options, which is a big thing for us,” said Councilman Fernando Dutra, who will represent the city on the authority’s board. “We’re not just talking the talk but walking the walk.”
The council still needs to decide on price and source, most likely in the next month. The amount of power that comes from renewable sources will determine how much discount the consumer sees, Gary Gero, chief sustainability officer for Los Angeles County.
For example, if 100 percent of the energy is renewable, prices actually will increase by a small amount, Gero said. If it’s 50 percent, businesses and residents will save from 1-2 percent. If the city sets a 33 percent target for renewables, the savings likely would total 4-5, he added.
About 28 percent of the power purchased by Edison now comes from renewable sources, Gero said.
Dutra plans to recommend the council set a 50 percent mark, he said. “It’s a safe compromise,” he said.
The authority isn’t likely to take over for Edison until Jan. 1, 2019, Gero said. While the authority will purchase the power, Edison will continue to distribute it.
The state and Edison require a nine-month lead before the authority can begin providing power, he said.
Whittier’s businesses and residents will be enrolled automatically with the authority unless they affirmatively opt out. City officials are expected to notify the public through a variety of ways, Gero said.
In many cases, other than the smaller bills, customers will notice little change, Gero said. For example, Edison’s summer discount program and the “California Climate Credits” that customers receive every April and October likely will continue. The latter is money distributed from the state’s cap and trade auction, he said.
Whittier Councilwoman Cathy Warner abstained on the proposal, saying she wants an third-party consultant to study the proposal first.
“I don’t have enough independent information to make a good decision,” Warner said.
Last year, Pico Rivera similarly went into the power businesss but it is partnering with the city of Lancaster.