Frequently Asked Questions
What is ‘Community Choice Energy’?
Community Choice Energy (CCE) allows local governments to take over the buying of power for their communities. These are local programs that prioritize the environment by buying clean, carbon-free energy on our behalf and then reinvesting it into the community. There are over 26 Community Choice Energy programs around California and over 30% of Californians are served by them.
Why are local governments doing this?
The City of Santa Barbara has a goal of carbon neutrality by 2035, and many other cities have their own sustainability goals. Getting 100% clean energy into our community is an important first step to get there.
How is this different from our current energy system?
Currently, customers only have one choice of a monopoly energy provider, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) in North Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County, and Southern California Edison (SCE) in the South Santa Barbara region. These are investor-owned companies, meaning they are beholden to shareholders and are committed to providing profits to their investors. Community Choice Energy programs give us a choice in who buys our power, while directing profits back into the community (instead of to investors).
Will this increase power outages?
No. SCE will still maintain the poles and wires. As a customer, you probably won’t even notice a change. In fact, your bill will still come from SCE. The Community Choice Energy program is just taking over the power contracting to align with climate goals and generate local revenue and community resilience.
Will this lead to more or less PSPS events?
Since local governments are not in control of SCE’s poles and wires, safety shutoffs and unscheduled utility outages will remain the same. However, a major goal of these Community Choice Energy programs is to invest in local energy resilience (which includes renewable energy and battery banks) and will therefore look to help local area residents and businesses establish this infrastructure at their homes and places of work.
FAQs related to Santa Barbara Clean Energy
Why should I trust the City to buy my power?
The City has contracted with a company called CalChoice to provide expertise and management of the power purchasing process. CalChoice provides a similar service for 9 other local Community Choice Energy programs. These programs are having great success throughout the state in creating local programs and incentives for all kinds of climate work.
Will my bill go up?
The City of Santa Barbara's Community Choice Energy program defaults its customers into its 100% Green product, which is 100% carbon-free. This greener, climate-friendly electricity does come at a slight premium (about $5 per month for your home) but is much cheaper than fully outfitting your house with solar panels. Should you choose to, you can also opt down to the Green Start product, which is at least 50% carbon-free and costs the same amount that you've typically paid Southern California Edison.
What do I need to do to sign up?
Nothing. All customers are automatically enrolled in the new Community Choice Energy Program and will stay that way unless they take steps to opt out. Because most of the community enrolls in the new program together, Community Choice Energy is a very powerful program to increase renewable energy, gain access to new rebates and programs, and help our region meet our climate goals. By staying opted in, you support a local program that aligns with local climate goals and keeps decision-making local.