If you live in Palm Springs, Cathedral City, and Palm Desert, you’ve probably heard about the new Community Choice Aggregator (CCA), Desert Community Energy (DCA). We’ve been getting a lot of inquiries in regard to the new CCA from existing clients as well as new potential clients and we would like to provide some clarification. Here’s what you should know about the new CCA: Desert Community Energy…

First of all, your utility company is not changing. desert-community-energy-hot-purple-energyYour electricity and your bill will still come from Southern California Edison (SCE); the only difference is that with a CCA like Desert Community Energy, the community can source its own energy instead and be in charge of buying the power wholesale from power plants instead of SCE, with the idea that DCE can get a higher mix of their power from cleaner sources of energy. Additionally, since they’re a not-for-profit organization, they should be able to deliver their energy for less. Please note that once you’re enrolled in DCE, you will still receive a “bill” from SCE, however, your “delivery” charges (charges for maintaining the power grid infrastructure) will go directly to SCE but your “generation” charges (charges for the power itself) will get forwarded from SCE to DCE.

DCE is the second CCA in the Coachella Valley. The first CCA was established in Rancho Mirage, Rancho Mirage Energy Authority (RMEA) has been around for almost two years now, and everyone has gotten their electricity the same as before the switch. Ultimately, there is no real difference in where your power comes from–it will come through Edison’s utility lines but in theory, if DCE buys 10 megawatts of power from a solar farm where SCE would have bought from a natural gas plant, then overall, the mix of clean energy feeding the grid, goes up.

Now, everyone under SCE has three options: community-choice-aggregate-hot-purple-energy

1) Do nothing. If you do nothing then you will automatically be moved to DCE’s “Carbon Free” rate, which will cost approximately $0.02/kWh more than Edison’s standard rates cost today (because DCE is primarily concerned with clean energy and not cost savings)

2) You can enroll in DCE but opt out of the “Carbon Free” rate and into the “Desert Saver” rate, which will cost approximately $0.001/kWh less than SCE does (however, for solar customers the switch to DCE may end up costing slightly more even with the Desert Saver rate because of the way that the surcharges are calculated differently with DCE than with SCE)

3) Opt-out of DCE entirely and stay with SCE. Honestly, it’s hard to really argue for one choice over the other. Option 1 will definitely cost more but we’re probably talking $300/year for the average Palm Springs 2,000 ft² house that doesn’t have solar (meaning that for your average solar customer, the difference between all the options is probably less than $75/year). If you were to decide purely with your pocketbook today, then you would opt out entirely. However, as time goes on it’s likely that SCE’s rates will go up at a higher clip than DCE, so at some point, it may end up being less expensive (DCE is actually less expensive than SCE, but because of the “exit fees” that SCE charges CCA customers, those exit fees pretty much neutralize all the savings one would otherwise see in moving to DCE).

We look forward to seeing how these developments continue and welcome any efforts to decarbonize the utility grid and recommend those who cannot benefit from rooftop solar, to be green.