Council to Form Subcommittee on Innovation Parks and Community Choice EnergyAdvisory Committee

Innovation-Park-exampleTwo of the critical issues facing the council are the handling of the innovation parks and Nishi, as well as the ongoing discussion on public power. As a result, there are consent items on this council meeting’s agenda that would appoint Robb Davis and Rochelle Swanson to an ad hoc city council subcommittee on the Innovation Parks, as well as appoint a Community Choice Energy Advisory Committee.

Innovation Parks

An ad hoc subcommittee of Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis and Councilmember Rochelle Swanson was formed last year in order to assist city staff in the development of the Guiding Principles for the two innovation park proposals: Davis Innovation Center and Mace Innovation Center, in addition to Nishi. The Guiding Principles were adopted by the city council on December, 2014 which brought a conclusion to the work of the subcommittee.

However, at the last meeting, the idea reemerged as council discussed the need to plan and coordinate how to roll out three potential Measure R projects.

According to the staff report, there are four key areas that a subcommittee would be asked to assist with.

These include: 1. Assisting staff in the development of County tax sharing agreements; 2. Assisting staff in the formation of City requests and deal points in the formation of Development Agreements; 3. Acting in the capacity of a centralized “clearinghouse” to assist staff in responding to requests stemming from the community tied to the three proposals; and 4. Assisting staff with other aspects of project processing for which early check-in with the Council subcommittee would provide helpful guidance.

According to staff, “The subcommittee would help to provide guidance to the City manager and staff on the development and review of potential requests and deal points associated with these agreements.”

Staff notes, “With proposals like these it is not unusual to receive specific requests from various community groups seeking to achieve a specific project objective. Choices for Healthy Aging is an example of such a group that engaged on the Cannery proposal, for example.”

“Such requests by community groups are typically not centralized and can be directed to staff, to the applicant directly, to one or more Council Members, or to a combination of the above,” staff adds. “This can readily lead to miscommunication and inefficient use of time. To assist in engaging in such requests, the subcommittee would assist staff by acting as a centralized clearinghouse to the extent possible. Staff and members of the City Council would be encouraged to direct such requests and conversations to the Council Subcommittee.”

solar-panels-1Community Choice Energy Advisory Committee

Last year the city manager, Steve Pinkerton, unveiled a plan to look into creating a publicly-owned utility (POU). After much community discussion and some controversy over costs and spending, council shelved the item.

However, the issue of public power remains on the forefront of current issues. Unlike a POU where the city would outright own and run the utility, a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) only controls the generation of electricity, while PG&E would still own the infrastructure. A POU would allow the city to have full control over every aspect of our utility grid, and theoretically greater cost savings, but there would also be greater risk and uncertainty.

Staff notes that the city has studied several local energy options in the past. They write, “Within the past 10 years the community has voted to join SMUD [Sacramento Municipal Utility District], reject a statewide initiative that would have restricted local power choices, and recently studied alternative structures for local power.”

This advisory committee would “investigate and make recommendations on a specific approach that has been implemented in a growing number of Northern California communities – Community Choice Energy [CCE, formerly known as community choice aggregation, or CCA].”

A CCE “acts as an alternative energy provider to the investor owned utility (IOU), providing consumers with an option to purchase energy that is 50%-100% generated from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, water, and biopower.”

The CCE would “choose where to purchase power from, and to create a mix that meets the goals of the program, providing clean energy while ensuring customers a stable and competitive price.”

Customers could opt out and “continue to use their IOU as before with no changes whatsoever.” Currently there are more than 20 communities in Northern California participating in CCE.

The Community Choice Energy Advisory Committee (CCEA) would develop an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of joining an existing CCE or forming a new CCE.

The committee will be made up of existing members of community organizations that have been involved in past community choice energy discussions (3), a member of the business community (1), a member of the Utility Rate Advisory Committee (1), and members of the Natural Resources Commission (2). In addition, there would be ex-officio members from Yolo County and DJUSD (Davis Joint Unified School District).

The goal is that analysis and recommendations could be available within four months for council consideration.

The scope includes:

  1. Work on defined objectives, within the defined time frame, to produce materials that will assist the City in determining the advantages and disadvantages of joining an existing CCE or forming a new CCE for Davis.
  2. In coordination with the City’s Natural Resource Commission, plan, organize, and conduct at least one public workshop to solicit community input on implementing a CCE in Davis, including inviting appropriate speakers or others to make presentations at this forum(s).
  3. Identify and interview persons with specific expertise in the implementation of CCEs.
  4. Identify potential public education materials that would be helpful in informing the Davis community about CCEs.
  5. Identify potential partners and partnerships, which the City may wish to pursue in implementing a CCE.
  6. Research CCEs in other locations, develop detailed descriptions of these programs, and provide written reports to City staff.
  7. Author a report, in coordination with City staff, to the City Council with its findings and recommendations.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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