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06/24/2014

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Great report!

HOWEVER.. It has one very large inaccuracy in it.

Almost all of the organizations opposed to the original draft of AB 2145 are still in -very- strong opposition to the bill, because its remaining provisions, and its new '3 County' restriction would be -extremely- damaging to Community Choice programs.

AB 2145 as amended still has exactly the same purpose; to entrench the corporate monopoly utilities and undermine competition from local community based clean energy programs.

Here's why:

1) Geographic Barriers: With its '3 county' restriction, AB 2145 would prevent scores of cities and counties from grouping together to serve larger numbers of customers, in order to buy and generate energy at lower bulk rates and compete on electricity prices with the huge monopoly utilities. Under this draconian restriction, many small, rural, and lower income communities, would find it impossible to launch Community Choice programs, because they would be forced to do so on their own with a much smaller customer base. It is outrageously anti-competitive to limit the size and buying power of these programs when the monopoly utilities have no such restrictions at all.

Ability to grow is crucial. When Marin’s program expanded to bring in thousands of customers in the working class city of Richmond, rates for customers went down; and Marin’s planned inclusion of Napa County is projected to lower customer rates by 3%, while still delivering a greener energy mix than PG&E. If AB 2145 becomes law, cities and counties all over California will be blocked from repeating Marin’s successes.

2) Bureaucratic Interference: AB 2145 creates a minefield of bureaucratic restrictions to Community Choice programs designed to make it extremely difficult for them to survive. AB 2145’s requirement that Community Choice programs "provide" exact rates for customers for five years in advance (while the monopoly utilities would only be required to "project" rates for five years) would be an outrageous double standard, and impossible for any energy provider to meet. It would expose Community Choice programs to endless lawsuits over changing rates that could shut down every single one of them.

AB 2145 also takes customer relations oversight away from local accountable elected officials and staff, and places it in the vast state level bureaucracy of the CPUC. No other local public water or power systems are placed under such a heavy handed, distant, state agency governing process. These two provisions are nothing but flagrantly purposeful bureaucratic barriers meant to hamstring fair competition from Community Choice programs.

So in its current form, AB 2145 would be devastating to the community based clean energy movement in California. And it is vital that every Californian stay fully actively engaged to stop this fossil fuel utility monopoly power grab.

To take action go to http://no2145.org

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  • Blue Macaws fly over the Peruvian Amazon Basin at sunrise. Photo by Heather Sarantis.