Editor’s Note: Over coffee recently, First District Supervisor Das Williams told Newsmakers about the county’s impending green energy effort to transfer several hundred thousand utility customers from PG&E and Southern California Edison to Monterey Bay Community Power. We follow local news pretty closely, but hadn't heard a great deal about this, so asked Das to send us a piece about the changeover.
Recently, we have taken two very significant steps to lower carbon emissions in the County – voting to join Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP) and adopting the County’s first ever Strategic Energy Plan that will enable us to create an ordinance that will legalize utility-scale solar in our County.
Joining MBCP is particularly huge.
MBCP is a Community Choice Aggregate, which allows a public alternative to investor owned utilities. It operates by pooling the buying power of individual customers to secure large energy generation contracts and allows consumers greater control over the source of their energy that individuals would not be able to do on their own.
It is as if all your neighbors chipped in to purchase solar for your neighborhood – it’s cheaper at a larger scale and each person pays less than if they were to install solar on their individual home.
While I was in the State Assembly, I was principal co-author of California’s landmark climate change legislation - Senate Bill 350 (2016) - which increased California’s clean energy goal to require 50% of our energy to come from renewable sources by 2030 and requiring that we reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. In 2018, the California Legislature increased that goal to 100% clean energy by 2045.
As groundbreaking as those goals are, a 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates it may not be as groundbreaking as we need it to be – and not only for our state but the world as a whole. The report indicates that we must halfour GHG emissions by 2030 to avoid irreparable damage to our planet.
In addition, our Board received a distressing update on our County Energy and Climate Action Plan on December 11th of last year.
The Plan, adopted prior to my time on the Board, has a goal of reducing GHG emissions in the unincorporated part of the County to be 15% below 2007 levels by 2020. Not only will we not meet that goal but our emissions have actually increased 14% above 2007 levels as of 2016 (the most recent available data).
On top of all this, a recent Washington Post article identifies Santa Barbara County as one of seventy-one counties that have seen temperature increases over the critical mark of two-degrees Celsius.
This means we cannot wait for the state goals to take effect – we need action NOW. Joining a Community Choice Aggregate is a critical step toward reducing our local emissions by generating cleaner energy. I am honored to be the County’s representative on the Monterey Bay Community Power Policy Board and will fight like hell for clean, local energy now – not later.
I’m writing this on September 20, 2019 – the day of the global youth-led climate strikes. I’m more inspired than ever to push through decisive action on climate and I can only hope my fellow elected leaders across the globe feel the same.
Das Williams is running for re-election to the Board of Supervisors for the First District.