Santa Barbara County on Its Way to 100 Percent Renewable Energy by 2030

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Central Coast Community Energy Gives Progress Report to Board of Supervisors

Source of this article, the Santa Barbara Independent, May 10, 2023

Whatever else the rest of the world is doing, Santa Barbara County is on the way to 60 percent renewable energy by 2025 and 100 percent by 2030, ahead of State of California targets. The statistics were presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday by Judi Young of Central Coast Community Energy (3CE), which the county joined in 2021, a group that buys energy and invests in renewable energy projects. So far, 3CE has saved 18 percent in billing costs on average for PG&E customers, and about 2 percent for SoCal Edison customers; the investor-owned utilities continues to bill customers, and the bills show energy purchases by 3CE.

As to whether energy consortiums could continue to deliver the goods as neighboring states opt for green energy, Young said 3CE had 19 long-term power purchase and storage agreements in hand, five of them new projects in 2022, all of which added up to 22 percent of the annual load.

The flipside of energy creation is energy use — 41 percent was transportation in California, said Young, and gas appliances were 21 percent. Both were targets for consumer rebates to encourage conversion to electricity. Last year, among the five counties that make up 3CE — Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara — $2.4 million had gone to customers for electric vehicles, $1.4 million to schools for buses, and $600,000 to affordable housing that is all-electric. Altogether, they keep 2,800 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere annually. The investments in Santa Barbara County from 2020-2022 totaled $4.8 million.

The rebates exist for vehicles — including motorcycle — new and used, batteries and chargers, between $1,000 and $4,000. At residences, $450-$4,000 is available for heat pumps, efficient air conditioning, and panel and appliance replacement — though Young noted the contractor world was in training to keep up with heat pump technology. Fully electric granny flats could qualify for $5,000 from the construction program.

Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said there was huge pushback from his 5th District residents, who did not want to give up their gas stoves. Young assured that no one wanted to remove existing appliances, but they were “offering the opportunity” to help residents electrify.

As to a question about 3CE’s solvency from Supervisor Joan Hartmann, Young said they had an A rating from Standard and Poors, based on the stability of the community choice aggregates in California and the strong socioeconomic makeup of the five counties 3CE encompasses.

Hartmann also noted the City of Santa Barbara has an “aggressive” solar rooftop program, and Young admitted that 3CE had no similar program as they buy energy from large energy producers. The city’s Home Power program, however, does extend to all county residents.


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