ventura ventura, February 13, 2018
From: Michelle Ellison
Sent: Saturday, February 10, 2018 10:18 PM
Subject: Clean Power Alliance – default renewable selection

Greetings fellow Ventura County board and board alternates.  (As of now, it appears only the County, Thousand Oaks and Ojai have appointed directors and alternates, so we don’t yet have every participating municipality in our area represented, but that will happen soon I’m sure.)

As you know, we each have a very important selection to make for our communities, and that is our default renewable tier – 36%, 50%, or 100%.  The default plan is what customers will be enrolled in automatically if they do not make another selection.  Customers always have the choice if they wish to opt for a different plan or opt out of Clean Power Alliance (CPA) all together.  Our preliminary default indications are due by 2/16 and final indications by 3/1.

I wanted to share with you my recommendation and rationale regarding default selection, should it be beneficial as you consider your options.  I am encouraging Ojai to adopt 100% renewable as our default plan, and encourage you to think about doing so with your community as well.  I base this on the following reasoning:

  • Communities such as Ojai and others have adopted 100% clean energy goals and committed to climate action plans to reduce emissions.  This is a fitting opportunity to support that proclamation and make immediate and substantial progress on that goal.  What better time than now to take action?
  • By setting the default at 100%, we will get much more participation at that level than if we set it at a lower level.  Often it’s just inertia that keeps people from deviating from the default, so if we want to encourage more clean energy, then our default should support that.  I came across this relevant study, about the “power of the nudge”.  When people were given 100% renewable energy as the default, 70% participated at that level, which is 10 times more than those given a lower default level with the option to opt up, only 7%  opted up.
  • At the 100% level, for just 7% more than current SCE standard rates, customers increase their renewable energy by about 70% (up from 30% to 100%).  That seems like a compelling return.  If a household has a monthly electricity bill of $100 for example, it’ll cost just $7 extra (a trip to Starbucks).  Most probably won’t notice the difference and for those that do, they can opt for a lower tier with cost savings.
  • While the 100% renewable option is projected to cost about 7% more than the standard SCE plan (which is the plan that most customers currently have), there is a 10% savings for those that have the comparable SCE plan.
  • Customers aren’t locked into anything.  Every resident and business can choose to opt down to a lower renewable tier at any time, and benefit from cost savings and also more renewable energy than they are currently getting through SCE.  Or they can opt out of CPA all together.
  • Our communities can serve as a model of sustainability, helping to lead the way in securing a clean and distributed energy future.  More clean energy means less polluting emissions, which benefits everyone.
  • In terms of roll out, commercial accounts are part of Phase 2 which is scheduled to launch June 1 and residential accounts are in Phase 3 which will be later this year. Customers will receive two opt out/up/down notices, one 30 days prior and the other 60 days prior.  Between now and then, it will be important that we do public outreach and communications so that people feel adequately informed about their options.
  • I did some research and called the community of Portola Valley, which is part of the Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) in northern CA. They joined PCE last April and have their default set at 100% renewable.  (Going into it, the projected cost increase for the 100% option was 5% vs. the projected cost savings of 5% for the 50% option, which is similar to ours.)  They have an opt out rate of 5.4% and opt down rate of 3%.  So that means that over 90% of their residents and businesses have stayed in at 100%. The gal I spoke with said that we really get one shot at setting the default, it would be really hard (and politically more difficult) to change it at a later time because it would mean notifying everyone all over again which could cause confusion and perhaps then more opt outs, so she encourages us to do it right from the get go.
  • Our county is in a unique moment with the upcoming Socal Edison RFP that provides an incentive for a large amount of local clean energy development and generation very soon, so adopting 100% renewable supports that effort.

You all have seen this already, but as reference this table shows the indicative bill discounts for each of the plans.

Clean Power Alliance Plan

Indicative Bill Discount

CPA vs. SCE Standard Plan

Indicative Bill Discount

CPA vs. SCE Comparable Plan

36% Renewable



50% Renewable



100% Renewable



I’d be interested in hearing what your thoughts are on all of this. Thanks!


Michelle Ellison

Ojai’s Alternate Board Member, Clean Power Alliance


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