September 25, 2015
Contact: Bill Powers, 619-917-2941
A community choice energy program – allowing local residents to bypass the regional utility and buy electricity as a group – could save at least 5 percent in costs, according to a study released today by the Protect Our Communities Foundation (POC), a local nonprofit organization.
The study also concluded that a community choice energy program could repay all start-up costs within the first year of operation while staying on-track to meet California’s green energy goals for 2020. POC provided the assessment to the City of San Diego, which will now pursue a validation study of the findings.
Under community choice energy, known technically as community choice aggregation or CCA, regional utilities like San Diego Gas & Electric retain ownership of the electrical distribution system, including all the transmission and distribution lines. But the community choice entity displaces SDG&E as the purchaser of electricity that flow along those lines.
Among the potential benefits of a City of San Diego CCA are consumer choice, revenues for local economic development, new local energy programs, rate stability and lower costs, as well as local control of energy planning and pricing.
The City of San Diego is currently considering CCA as an element of its draft Climate Action Plan. The plan sets a target of 100 percent clean energy by 2035, in other words, generating all its electricity from clean renewable sources within 20 years.
The Protect Our Communities Foundation is a 501(c)(3) that seeks to protect local communities and the natural environment by advancing distributed local renewable energy as a more cost-effective and environmentally sound alternative to industrial-scale projects on open lands (http://protectourcommunities.org/).
POC has petitioned the California Supreme Court to review a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) decision that approved the $1.6 billion Pio Pico natural gas power plant. The CPUC had previously rejected the project.
Read POC’s legal petition here.
You can help protect eagles from the proposed Tule Wind farm!
The California State Lands Commission has not yet voted whether to lease state land to the project. Please consider writing to them and asking them to vote “No” on a Tule Wind lease.
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Read more about the project’s risks to eagles here.
We don’t have to choose between eagles and clean energy. Rooftop solar and energy efficiency are better options.
Last week POC and two backcountry landowners sued the federal government in order to protect Golden Eagles at phase II of the proposed Tule Wind farm. You can read news articles about the lawsuit here here here and here.
Yesterday POC filed its opening brief in its appeal of a court decision that upheld the federal government’s approval of phase I of the proposed Tule Wind project. POC’s appeal concerns the impacts the project would have on migratory birds.
In August 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected the developer’s application for a 30-year eagle take permit covering just phase II of the project. The Service told the applicant that the entire project, not just Phase II, is considered high risk to eagles. It instructed the developer to resubmit its application, this time covering the entire project, and asked for more eagle data. In addition, the Service asked again to have the turbine layout redesigned or the project moved to another location, due to the high risk to Golden Eagles.
In 2014, attorneys for POC sent the government three letters explaining POC’s concerns. These letters contain dozens of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act that show that wildlife agencies repeatedly raised red flags about eagles at the site. You can read them here here and here.
You can help protect eagles from the proposed Tule Wind project.
We don’t have to choose between eagles and renewable energy. San Diego is blessed with sunshine and has hundreds of thousands of rooftops that can host solar panels, as well as many homes and businesses that can be retrofitted to become more energy efficient.
The Protect Our Communities Foundation was joined by national conservation groups last week when it expressed outrage over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to offer 30-year eagle take permits.
As POC board member Bill Powers explained, putting San Diego’s eagles at risk is unnecessary: “This rule change isn’t needed because we don’t have to choose between protecting eagles and developing clean energy. We can do both. There are clean energy alternatives that are less harmful to eagles, such as rooftop solar and energy efficiency.”
Federal Rule Change Will Harm Eagles, Charges Local Conservation Group
Contact: Kelly Fuller
(San Diego, December 6, 2013) Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released its final decision to weaken a key rule that protects Bald and Golden Eagles, in order to more quickly develop renewable energy.
The Protect Our Communities Foundation (POC) opposes this rule change because it would harm eagles, has not been adequately studied, and violates federal law. Two wind projects in San Diego and Imperial counties are known to be potentially affected by the change.
“Eagles symbolize America’s national heritage and deserve more protection, not less. This rule change will make it harder to protect the remaining eagles that San Diegans love,” said Donna Tisdale, POC’s Secretary.
“If you increase the length of eagle take permits from five years to 30 years, common sense says there are going to be some effects on eagles. But the federal government didn’t study the impacts of this rule change even though the National Environmental Policy Act requires it. Instead, the feds have decided to break the law and use eagles as lab rats.” said Kelly Fuller, consultant to The Protect Our Communities Foundation. Fuller was formerly the Wind Campaign Coordinator at American Bird Conservancy in Washington, D.C.
“According to the FWS’s own Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance, there are no proven measures that will reduce the numbers of eagles killed once the wind turbines are installed,” she added. “This rule change is a disaster.”
Before the rule change, FWS offered programmatic eagle take permits that would allow companies to kill specified numbers of eagles at their facilities for up to five years, as long as those deaths were unintentional and measures were taken to reduce and offset the deaths. The rule change allows permits to last for up to 30 years. When FWS first made these permits available in 2009, it said that permits would be limited to five years or less because longer permits could be incompatible with the preservation of eagles.
Under the old system, the permits could be renewed after five years unless there was reason to not to renew them. The rule change abandons the every-five-years-renewal process in favor of longer permits, thus removing the public’s opportunity to help protect eagles by commenting at the time of permit renewal.
POC sent comments to FWS opposing 30-year eagle take permits in July 2012. More than 120 other groups also wrote to FWS criticizing the rule change, including the National Park Service, major conservation groups, and tribal organizations.
In San Diego and Imperial Counties, this rule change could affect the proposed Tule Wind Project and existing Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Facility:
“This rule change isn’t needed because we don’t have to choose between protecting eagles and developing clean energy. We can do both. There are clean energy alternatives that are less harmful to eagles, such as rooftop solar and energy efficiency,” said Bill Powers, an energy expert who is a member of the POC Board of Directors.
Eagle Conservation Plan for the Ocotillo Express wind project. See page 41 for discussion of what happens if eagles are killed.
2009 Eagle Take Permit Rule (see page 46856 for statement limiting eagle take permits to five years).
The mission of The Protect Our Communities Foundation is to protect rural communities and natural resources in southern California and northern Baja California from unnecessary and harmful large-scale and industrial energy projects, and to advance smart energy solutions.
A new article from Bloomberg News explains an unexpected benefit of roofstop solar. Many of the modern systems provide their customers with information about how they use electricity — information the customers often can’t get from their utility company. Some customers use this information to monitor their electricity use and turn off appliances such as pool heaters and air conditioning when they are not needed. From the article:
The Protect Our Communities Foundation strongly supports rooftop solar and increased use of energy efficiency.
Over the weekend, nine electrical power plants were blown up in Michoacan state, in Mexico. These attacks show that it’s better to have locally generated power, under local control, than to be dependent on imported electricity from outside the United States, such as the power that would be coming over SDG&E’s proposed Energia Sierra Juarez transmission line.
The Protect Our Communities Foundation supports local energy solutions such as rooftop solar, energy efficiency, and community choice aggregation. Check out the Run with the Sun and the San Diego District Foundation websites for more info.