Streamlining Renewable Energy Projects in San Diego County

TO: Board of Supervisors

SUBJECT: STREAMLINING RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY (DISTRICTS: ALL)

OVERVIEW

On October 15, 2019 (10), and October 29, 2019 (27), the San Diego County Board of Supervisors (Board) adopted an ordinance that memorialized the Board’s election to implement a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program, or Community Choice Energy (CCE) program, within the County of San Diego (County). These CCEs mark the beginning of a change to the traditional energy sourcing, production and distribution model that has been used for more than 100 years. 

An important part of the conversation surrounding CCEs has been a simple one: supply and demand. An increase in CCEs around the state will lead to an ostensible increase in demand for renewable energy. As the County steadily marches down a path toward entering a commodities market, it becomes increasingly important that the County does its part to increase the renewable energy supply in our region to ensure adequate supply. If we are willing to implement a CCE, we should also be willing to increase our renewable energy supply. 

Today’s action will assist in increasing the permitting process efficiency by directing the Chief Administrative Officer to return to the Board prior to October 1, 2020, with options to streamline the environmental review process for renewable energy projects, including the options of preparing a Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (EIR), identifying ideal locations for renewable energy projects, and developing a design review checklist exemption process. Acknowledging that there are resource-rich neighboring jurisdictions, today’s action will also direct the Chief Administrative Officer to explore renewable energy project opportunities with neighboring jurisdictions and return to the Board prior to October 1, 2020.

RECOMMENDATION(S)

CHAIRMAN COX AND VICE-CHAIRMAN DESMOND

1) Find in accordance with Sections 15061(b)(3) and 15378(b)(5) of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines that today’s actions are exempt from CEQA. 

2) Direct the Chief Administrative Officer to return to the Board by October 1, 2020, with options to streamline the environmental review process for renewable energy projects, including the options of preparing a Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (EIR), identifying ideal locations for renewable energy projects, and developing a design review checklist exemption process.

3) Direct the Chief Administrative Officer to explore renewable energy project opportunities with neighboring jurisdictions and return to the Board by October 1, 2020, with its findings.

4) Establish appropriations of $100,000 in the Planning & Development Services, Services & Supplies account to prepare options to streamline the environmental review process for renewable energy projects based on available prior year General Fund fund balance. (4 VOTES)

FISCAL IMPACT

The total cost for consultants and staff time to complete today’s recommended actions is estimated to be up to $100,000. The funding source is available prior year General Fund fund balance. There will be no change in net General Fund costs and no additional staff years. 

BUSINESS IMPACT STATEMENT

N/A

ADVISORY BOARD STATEMENT

N/A

BACKGROUND

For generations, the model for how we power our homes and businesses has remained the same. Investor owned utilities (IOUs) would buy and deliver the energy to power our homes and businesses. Due to state legislation to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, many jurisdictions are implementing Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs, or Community Choice Energy (CCE) programs, to obtain more renewable energy beyond what traditional IOUs offer. In California, 19 CCEs are operating and six more are expected to begin operations by the end of 2020. On October 15, 2019 (10), and October 29, 2019 (27), the San Diego County Board of Supervisors (Board) adopted an ordinance that memorialized the Board’s election to implement a CCE program within the County of San Diego. These CCEs mark the beginning of a change to the traditional energy sourcing, production and distribution model that has been used for more than 100 years. 

Under a CCE model, newly created government agencies buy their own power, while continuing to rely on traditional IOUs to perform the transmission and distribution services to deliver that power. These programs have the potential to increase the renewable energy consumption in our region and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet state mandates. However, it is not enough to simply bring existing energy production contracts now under the IOUs over to a CCE program, as this would not provide any new renewable energy.

An important part of the conversation surrounding CCEs has been a simple one: supply and demand. An increase in CCEs around the state will lead to an ostensible increase in demand for renewable energy. As the County steadily marches down a path toward entering a commodities market, it becomes increasingly important that the County does its part to increase the renewable energy supply in our region to ensure adequate supply. If we are willing to implement a CCE, we should also be willing to increase our renewable energy supply. 

 

It is important that the permitting process for renewable energy projects is thoughtful and efficient. Today’s action will assist in increasing the permitting process efficiency by directing the Chief Administrative Officer to return to the Board prior to October 1, 2020, with options to streamline the environmental review process for renewable energy projects, including the options of preparing a Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (EIR), identifying ideal locations for renewable energy projects, and developing a design review checklist exemption process. Acknowledging that there are resource-rich neighboring jurisdictions, today’s action will also direct the Chief Administrative Officer to explore renewable energy project opportunities with neighboring jurisdictions and return to the Board prior to October 1, 2020.

LINKAGE TO THE COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO STRATEGIC PLAN

Today’s proposed action supports the Sustainable Environments/Thriving Strategic Initiative in the County of San Diego’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan by exploring opportunities to allow local renewable energy projects to more easily be built as part of the County’s role as a regional leader in the areas of sustainability while promoting economic vitality in the region. 

 

Respectfully submitted,

GREG COX                         JIM DESMOND

Chairman, First District        Vice-Chairman, Fifth District

ATTACHMENT(S)

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AGENDA ITEM INFORMATION SHEET

REQUIRES FOUR VOTES: ☒ Yes ☐ No

WRITTEN DISCLOSURE PER COUNTY CHARTER SECTION 1000.1 REQUIRED

☐ Yes ☒ No

PREVIOUS RELEVANT BOARD ACTIONS: 

N/A

BOARD POLICIES APPLICABLE:

N/A

BOARD POLICY STATEMENTS:

N/A

MANDATORY COMPLIANCE:

N/A

ORACLE AWARD NUMBER(S) AND CONTRACT AND/OR REQUISITION NUMBER(S):

N/A

ORIGINATING DEPARTMENT: Board of Supervisors, Districts 1 and 5

OTHER CONCURRENCE(S):    N/A

CONTACT PERSON(S):

Victor Avina

Ben Mills

619-531-5511

619-531-5555

victor.avina@sdcounty.ca.gov

benjamin.mills@sdcounty.ca.gov