local power

4281 Piedmont Avenue Oakland, California 94611

local.org   paulfenn@local.org  jpeters@local.org   510 451 1727



To:   Community Choice Supporters

Fr:    Paul Fenn


Dt:    Monday June 18, 2001


ASSEMBLY BILL 9 (renumbered from AB48x) The Community Choice bill will be heard by the Senate Utilities committee on this Tuesday, June 19. It recently passed the Assembly with only one vote opposed but is vulnerable to hostile amendments in the senate committee and we need help today.


Call, fax, email key utility committee senators

to oppose two amendments (1) allowing utilities to impose unreasonable switching fees and (2) preserving utility monopoly of wasted state conservation funds:


·        Utilities are fighting to maintain control of the state’s conservation funds, and do not want cities eligible to administer the funds contributed by their residents and businesses directly.

·        Utilities are also seeking to charge communities unreasonable fees for switching that will add up to millions of dollars for some communities, under what is called “direct access” rules. These rules are unjust and unreasonable and are designed to prevent communities from doing Community Choice.


Most importantly call Senate President Pro Tem Senator John Burton (SF-Marin) has a critical role to play with the Senate Chairwoman Debra Bowen’s (from Edison’s LA) treatment of the bill in committee. Call or fax Senator Burton, then Senator Bowen: contacts are at bottom.


If you are from the Palo Alto area, call Byron Sher from Palo Alto and San Mateo County. Sher is key because he may push the hostile amendments to maintain utility control of the energy efficiency funds, so he needs to hear local voices asking him not to. Mr. Sher’s contacts are below.


If you live in or near Redondo Beach, Los Angeles, San Jose, Inglewood, San Mateo, Culver City, Palm Desert, Poway, Van Nuys, San Juan Capistrano, Carlsbad, South Orange County, North San Diego County and their surrounds, you have a state senator sitting on the Senate Committee that will vote on AB9XX:

Finally, San Franciscans, we are unclear on Jackie Speier’s position on the bill, but if you have any connections to the senator from San Francisco/San Mateo, give her a call. Other senators on the committee are listed below, but focus your efforts on the local area delegation and the committee chair.

 “call them to say what?”


(1) To oppose electric utility amendments to the Community Choice bill that would protect the utilities’ widely criticized monopoly control of state energy efficiency and conservation funds against efforts of local governments to administer those funds directly in competitive bidding contests. Cities should not have to compete with suppliers when we want the suppliers to bid amongst themselves for our business. And the customers should control their demand, not any supplier, including the wires companies that are lobbying to keep these funds under their control.


(2) to oppose similarly hostile amendments that would impose artificially high exit fees and re-enter fees on consumers that participate in Community Choice programs. Fees that were designed for individual customers switching suppliers and require manual work to perform are being charged for electronic transfers of millions of customers at once that are not. Direct Access Rules for switching is unfair and unreasonable. In Ohio the utilities tried to get $2.5 million for a simple data transfer that actually cost very little. This is often referred to as putting Community Choice’s exit and re-entrance “under direct access rules.” Our position: all switching fees must be cost based and demonstrated before the Public Utilities Commission before it will be paid by the community.


(1) Conservation Funds


The utilities are saying that communities should have to compete with developers for the funds "like anyone else," but we say that the community represents demand, not supply, and the customer should not have to compete with the supplier, particularly when we want the developers to compete as suppliers for our business, not against us. Demand should not have to compete with supply. This is another conflict of interest. It is time to remove conservation moneys from monopoly control and into local community control.


The basic issue is that the utilities currently control the energy efficiency funds, and have been widely criticized for sitting on them. The simple conflict of interest is that the utilities are still gross-revenue and cost based in their return on investment, so that conservation is a money loser; it is a case of the fox guarding the chicken coop.


a. Evidence of Waste of Utility Control of Funds



Historically, the Utilities got "shareholder incentives" approved annually by the PUC 10 years ago, meaning they got profits for every kwh saved. Up through 1997 they got 30% profits on their programs mostly for bloated PR programs, a scandal which led to it being reduced to 7% last year, but it remains vulnerable to gaming and remains a million dollar adder that would not be there for publicly administered (competitively bid) Community Choice programs.

b. The current system of Utility control has been widely criticized and has all the accoutrements of a laundering system.


Utility-administered programs are notoriously horrible. An example of how these moneys are systematically wasted by utilities is the "Market Transformation" program which gave away money to appliance manufacturers to promote more efficient appliances, but had no way to measure results, and none have ever appeared.  From untraceable moneys spent on the brochure they send with the bill to boondoggles with contractors, and wholesale abuse such as the baseball ticket scandal are but chapters in the history of utility conservation politics.

The latest scandal appeared over the Spring when it was revealed that the state's utilities have failed to spend $70 million last year from a $250 million budget, meaning that conservation was left undone in the middle of an energy crisis. Meanwhile, utility lawyers also claimed at the PUC that they had run out of state rebate moneys, and threatened that their program would be discontinued unless they were granted new ratepayer contributed moneys authorized by from the latest authorization bill from senator Byron Sher. The utilities are able to make threatening claims without full disclosures of the use of the funds. There is a big dispute over whether they should get the money at all, and we believe they should not.


(2) Oppose Direct Access Switching Fees

Look out for efforts to attach punitive switching fees on communities for doing Community Choice or on consumers for switching back to default service. This could be used to frighten people from participating.
In Ohio, this has been a problem. When the Cleveland area chose Green Mountain Energy to over the coal and nuclear power they were formerly getting through default service, former monopoly utility FirstEnergy absurdly claimed they had to transfer each account individually, and attempted to impose a the switching fee charged to individual customers switching under direct access (where there is manual work on the individual account). When multiplied by the 450,000 residents and businesses participating, this amounted to $2.5 million for a very simple data dump that should cost very little. You should see to it that exit fees are not imposed on California consumers in Community Choice programs..


General Facts about Community Choice bill AB9


AB9xx (renumbered from AB48x), the California Community Choice bill, authorizes and establishes procedures for local governments to aggregate their communities into city-negotiated energy contracts. This would include both bulk power supply and new capacity development. The bill also authorizes aggregating municipalities to apply to the CPUC to replace their utility as administrators of energy efficiency funds contributed (“pro rata”) by their residents and businesses. The California State Assembly passed AB9 in recent weeks with only one vote in opposition.


What Cities Want to Do Community Choice?


The cities and counties of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Marin County and Fairfax, as well as West Hollywood, Lomita, Carson, El Segundo, Hawthorne, Culver City, Lawndale, and the Southern California Cities Joint Powers Consortium have each passed a resolution asking the Legislature for Community Choice. Among these, Carole Migden’s office had letters from 30 cities supporting the bill the Assembly utilities committee hearing last Spring.

San Francisco is prepared to implement Community Choice if a public takeover is not implemented outright, and Board President Tom Ammiano’s recently announced 50 Megawatt SF Solar Power Facility, which will be the world’s largest, was written by Local Power and is modeled on the Community Choice bill.


In Edison’s Los Angeles, a community of half a million live within the jurisdiction of the Southern California Cities Joint Powers Consortium, Executive Director and former two time mayor Albert Vera has been a long time advocate of Community Choice, is eager to implement Community Choice once it becomes law, and as pioneer of municipal conservation is eager to put the state energy efficiency funds to work in the area cities of his Joint Powers Agency.

Marin County Board President Hal Brown is working with local officials Frank Egger and Lew Tremain of Fairfax and a strong network of community activists to prepare to implement Community Choice. The conservation funds are key to making it work.


Local Power is discussing the development of wind and solar power on the Berkeley Pier and the Port of Oakland, both in conjunction with a Community Choice implementation. The East Bay Municipal Utility District has expressed some interest in playing an umbrella role for municipalities in the east bay such as Oakland and Berkeley.


We are also discussing the possibility of large scale solar initiatives in conjunction with San Francisco Board President Tom Ammiano’s solar plant in Richmond, Hercules, and other East Bay Cities.

Endorsements of AB9 (was AB48x)

To date, AB9xx has been endorsed by San Francisco Board President Tom Ammiano, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown and City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, Marin County Supervisor Hal Brown, Berkeley City Councilor Linda Maio, the Southern California Cities Joint Powers Consortium director Albert Vera, Fairfax Mayor Frank Egger,
Santa Cruz Vice Mayor Christopher Krohn and the California League of Cities. Among non-governmental organizations, TURN, CalPIRG, League of Women Voters of California, and Public Citizen have endorsed the legislation. Legislators from other Community Choice states have also offered their endorsements, including Massachusetts Representative Matthew Patrick, Ohio State Senators Priscilla Mead and Eric Fingerhut; the letters keep coming in.


For AB9 (was AB48x), Hearing Tuesday June 19




Senator Debra Bowen

Redondo Beach area

State Capitol, Room 4040
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 445-5953
Fax: (916) 323-6056
or to her committee staff: (Lawrence Lingbloom)
tel (916) 445-9764,
FAX (916) 445-1389
District Office if you are from the area:
2512 Artesia Blvd., #200
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
(310) 318-6994
Fax: (310) 318-6733


2. Senate President Pro Tem, John Burton
D-San Francisco
Senate District 03
Capitol Office:

State Capitol Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-1412

Fax 916 445 4722

Brian Kelly, staff

San Francisco Office
455 Golden Gate Ave.
Suite 14800
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 557-1300
Marin County Office
3501 Civic Center
Room 425
San Rafael, CA 94903
Phone: (415) 479-6612

3. Senator Byron Sher

Possible sponsor of hostile amendment to protect utility control of energy efficiency funds….


Stanford, San Mateo County CA
Senate District 11
District Office
State Capitol, Room 2082
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 445-6747
Fax (916) 323-4529
District Office:
In San Mateo County use:
Tel (650)364-2080
Fax (650)364-2102

Northern California

senators include:


Senator John Burton (see above)

Who is senate president pro tem

Senator Jackie Speier
San Francisco, San Mateo
D-San Francisco/
San Mateo
Senate District 08

District Office
State Capitol, Room 2032
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 445-0503
Fax (916) 327-2186
San Francisco office
455 Golden Gate Avenue,
Suite 14200
San Francisco, CA 94102
ph 415-557-7857
fax 415-557-7864
San Mateo Office
400 South El Camino Real,
Suite 630
San Mateo, CA 94402
ph 650-340-8840
fax 650-340-1661

5. Senator John Vasconcellos
San Jose
D-San Jose Senate District 13
Capitol Office:
State Capitol, Room 5108
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 445-9740
Fax (916) 324-0283
District Office
100 Paseo de San Antonio, Suite 209
San Jose, CA 95113 (408) 286-8318
Fax (408) 286-2338


Southern California senators


Senator Debra Bowen

D-Redondo Beach
See Above, if you are from her area call or fax her District Office.

6. Senator Richard Alarcon
San Fernando Valley, Van Nuys
Majority Whip
D-San Fernando Valley
Senate District 20

Capitol Office:
State Capitol, Room 4035
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 445-7928
Fax (916) 324-6645
District Office
6150 Van Nuys Blvd., #400
Van Nuys, CA 91401
(818) 901-5588
Fax (818) 901-5562

7. Senator Bill Morrow (Vice Chair)
North San Diego County, South Orange County
Capital Office:
State Capitol, room 4048
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-3731
Fax: (949) 489-8354
Carlsbad Office:
2755 Jefferson St., #101 Carlsbad, CA 92008
Phone: (760) 434-7930 Fax: (760) 434-8223 END


8. Senator Jim Battin
Palm Desert, Poway
(760) 568-0408Phone:

(858) 675-8211


Fax: (760) 568-1501

Fax: (858) 675-8262

. Senator Kevin Murray
D-Los Angeles around Culver City
Senate District 26
Capitol Office:
State Capitol, Room 4082
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 445-8800
Fax (916) 445-8899
District Office:
600 Corporate Pointe, #1020
Culver City, CA 90230
(310) 641-4391
Fax (310) 641-4395

10. Senator Edward Vincent
Los Angeles, Inglewood area
D-Los Angeles
Senate District 25
District Office
State Capitol, Room 5052
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 445-2104
Fax (916) 445-3712
District Office:
1 Manchester Blvd., #600
Inglewood, CA 90301
(310) 412-0393
Fax (310) 412-0996