January 30th marked the first meeting of the governing board of East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), Alameda County’s brand new Community Choice energy program. The governing board is made up of elected officials from the eleven cities* in Alameda County that joined the program and one County Supervisor representing the unincorporated areas. EBCE is expected to begin providing power to County residents and businesses in the spring of 2018.
The year-long period of preparing for the launch of the program is called Phase2. In this preparatory phase, community advocates represented by the East Bay Clean Power Alliance are focusing on building and strengthening a coalition of stakeholder organizations to ensure voices of Alameda County communities have influence in this formative period and throughout program operation. The East Bay Clean Power Alliance also continues to encourage members to attend the twice-monthly EBCE governing board meetings.
Some of the important Phase 2 issues currently being addressed are:
- Selection of the Community Advisory Committee: Applications for the nine-member committee were due March 8. One member will sit on the EBCE governing board as a non-voting member. The committee represents a key channel for community engagement. Five Board members will select committee members from three dozen applicants, representing stakeholder categories such as social justice, labor unions, energy advocates, and others.
- Local Development Business Plan: A key victory of Community Choice advocates (the East Bay Clean Power Alliance) and the Alameda Labor Council was a commitment of the County to fund a business plan for local renewable energy resource development. The plan is to be completed within eight months, by October 2017. Following review of five competitive bids, a contractor was selected to do this work. Building local renewable resources is critical to ensuring community benefits and equitable economic development. East Bay Clean Power Alliance will work with the contractor to ensure community members’ input is included in the planning.
- Selection of CEO: Last week the Board released the CEO job description, accepting applications through April 10. The CEO will have the exciting responsibility of coordinating the launch and operation of what is expected to be an innovative, model Community Choice program, one that is committed to community engagement, local renewable development, and benefits for communities across Alameda County.
The EBCE governing board has also discussed the potential future inclusion of neighoring Contra Costa County jurisdictions into Alameda County's EBCE. In early 2017, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors decided not to create their own Community Choice energy program. Some of their cities have already joined Marin County's Community Choice energy program, Marin Clean Energy. Other jurisdictions in Contra Costa county are considering either joining EBCE or Marin Clean Energy. If these jurisdictions elect to join EBCE, one priority will be to ensure community members from Contra Costa County also have a voice in the program.
* Member cities include Albany, Berkeley, Dublin, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Oakland, Piedmont, San Leandro, and Union City.