Irresponsible With Your Money On The Clean Power Alliance

When in doubt, don’t.

—Benjamin Franklin

Clean Power Alliance Good Intentions, Bad Decision

Thank the Councilmembers Cheryl Heitmann, Christy Weir, Lorrie Brown and Sofia Rubalcava for higher electrical costs, higher water, and wastewater rates. Also thank them for less police protection, fire safety and street paving, all so the City Council can save face and make all residents’ environmental champions.

Every citizen will now pay far more for electricity than if they stayed with Southern California Edison. The City Council had the option to keep your rates the same, but they didn’t. Too bad, because citizens will pay the increase and they will not get a vote.

When Choice Is No Choice At All

The City Council voted to enroll the entire city in the Clean Power Alliance program by a 4-2 vote on February 26th, 2018. During that meeting, our acting City Manager repeatedly advised the Council members they should wait because of financial uncertainties and undetermined costs.

They rejected the City Manager’s advice. Only Mayor Andrews and Councilman Tracy agreed with the City Manager’s recommendation and voted no. The other four members of the Council (Ms. Heitmann, Ms. Weir, Matt LaVere and Erik Nasarenko) committed the entire community to pay the additional costs for 100% for renewable solar energy.

Clean Power Alliance Quotes

In October 2018, the same four Council members (Ms. Heitmann, Ms. Weir, Mr. LaVere and Mr. Nasarenko) approved a contract with the Clean Power Alliance (CPA), enrolling every citizen and all city accounts in Ventura into the Clean Power CPA, in place of Southern California Edison. However, you were always free to reverse what the City Council decided if you took steps to opt-out. Otherwise, the change took effect in February 2019.

Remember, at the time the City Council voted to approve the Clean Power Alliance they didn’t know what it was going to cost. They committed the entire city to higher energy costs without knowing what those costs were going to be.

Who is the Clean Power Alliance?

Clean Power Alliance LogoThe Clean Power Alliance is a 2-year-old electricity provider in Southern California. They claim to bring clean, renewable energy at competitive rates. They compete with Southern California Edison (SCE), which has been around for 111 years and has been continually working on renewable energy for over ten years.

The City Council bought into the Clean Power Alliance’s message. You were “automatically enrolled in 100% Green Power which provides 100% renewable energy,” allowing all “residents to be environmental champions, leading the way to a greener future.”

You’re In Unless You Opt-Out

You were in the Clean Power Alliance unless you opted out. To opt-out, you needed to go to cleanpoweralliance.org, or call 888-585-3788. Whichever method you chose required your last utility bill and your SCE account number. Without those, you got nowhere. If you opted-out by telephone, you spent considerable time listening to recordings, ad nauseam, extolling green power’s virtues.

Six Months Later, The City Manager Learns The CPA Power Costs Are Greater Than Expected

In June 2019, the circumstances changed with the Clean Power Alliance. The cost of “green energy” went up—a lot. City Manager, Alex McIntyre, requested that the Council opt-out of the CPA program and return to SCE for the “high user accounts” of the city (like the street lights). Residents would remain enrolled in the 100% increased renewable rate with the CPA.

Clean Power Alliance Weighs Down Homeowners' Bugdets

The Clean Power Alliance Weighs Down Homeowner’s Bugdets

He recommended returning to SCE for at least a year until more was known.  He demonstrated that the costs to large energy use accounts within the city, such as street lighting, water, and wastewater, are 20.8% greater than represented a year earlier.  The total increase in costs for these high user accounts could be an additional $571,476.

After a lengthy discussion, filled with rampant confusion, misunderstanding, and punctuated with illogical statements, four members of the Council (Mses. Heitmann, Weir, Brown and Rubalcava) rejected the City Manager’s recommendation.  These four voted that all of the smaller city accounts would remain in the CPA program at 100% green power.  As for the six large City accounts, they voted to opt-out the street lighting account, and reduce the other large accounts to the 36% wind rate.

The result is that City government will be paying $228,086 more for electrical power through the CPA program than they would have paid through SCE.  Of that number, water and wastewater account will be paying $157,148. What’s more, they didn’t know the actual costs when they voted.

As for what residents will pay, the City Council confirmed that they would stay in the program at the 100% rate.

That gives all residents “the opportunity to be environmental champions, leading the way to a greener future.”

What Impact Will The Clean Power Alliance Decision Have?

The costs of participating in the Clean Power Alliance are becoming more visible, and it’s hurting the city. Southern California Edison increased its rates to the CPA, who is now passing those costs on to Ventura. The timing of the rate increase pressured the City Council into making a rushed, imprudent fiscal decision.

In the 11th hour, our solar power provider was now going to substitute wind power for solar and presented a $228,086 rate increase to power city departments. All of this came on the same evening that the City Council gave final approval to the 2019-2020 budget. Now this $228,086 increase, at a minimum, will shortchange police, fire and street paving, all so the city can have wind power.

Police, Fire and Street Paving Gets Shorted

Clean Power Alliance Leaves Less for PoliceCouncilman Jim Friedman got it right when he voted no.  When he expressed that, “The budget is $3.5 million in the red now, and this just makes it worse.” By voting to pay more to the CPA—money the city does not have—city services will suffer. Your streets won’t get paved.  The city doesn’t hire a police officer. Your water and wastewater rates increase. The police and fire departments don’t respond in time to save a life. If any of these things happen, you only need to look to four members of our City council for their budget decisions. (Mses. Heitmann, Weir, Brown and Rubalcava)

The city staff recommended opting out for one year until Ventura got a clearer understanding of what their fiduciary responsibilities would be. The City Manager recommended the City Council opt-out for one year. Councilmembers Heitmann, Weir, Brown and Rubalcava disregarded the staff’s recommendation to protect past votes to join the Clean Power Alliance. They voted to “save face” over the public’s interest.

Making Your Decisions for You

Council Pushes Clean Power AllianceThe City Council chose your electricity provider for you. In so doing, they shifted the burden of “Green Power” to every homeowner in the city. So, if you did not opt-out, you’ll pay higher electricity bills. We should resent the City Council forcing this upon the community. The CPA program should be a decision for each citizen to make. In this case, the government effectively enrolled everyone automatically without any consent from the citizens who will be paying the bill.

Four members of the City Council  (Heitmann, Weir, Brown and Rubalcava) were caught up in the “Save the Planet” message and hysteria. They believed that recyclable energy is the better choice, regardless of the cost. The Council should have taken a more cautious approach with an unproven, start-up company offering power whose benefits and costs are unknown. Instead, they let ideology cloud their decision instead of being fiscally prudent with taxpayer money.

Editor’s Comments

Should Ventura be concerned about a City Council that doesn’t plan, and spends money they don’t have? So far, they act with an attitude that ‘we’ll find the money somewhere.’ Obviously not from their pockets.

The highway to Hell is paved with good intentions. The City Council would do well to remember that. The city’s finances can withstand fiscal irresponsibility because of the Council’s financial ignorance only for so long. A day of reckoning is coming. Ventura faces six years of negative budgets. Perhaps that day is sooner than the City Council realizes.

As citizens, we must ask, “How long will we live with the Council’s bad financial decisions? For how long will we accept Councilmembers with political agendas that disregard city staff recommendations to make a ‘statement’?” Should Ventura be concerned about a City Council that doesn’t plan and spends money it doesn’t have?

Carefully examine your expenses and your beliefs to determine if the Clean Power Alliance is for you. If not, opt-out.

Moreover, when you go to the polls next November, do not reelect Councilmembers who exhibit no fiduciary responsibility with your money.

It’s time we examine our City Council’s performance and ask why they do the things they do. If we don’t diligently watch our money now, there may not be any money to watch in the future.

Demand More Fiscal Responsibility On The Clean Power Alliance

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8 replies
  1. Rich Holl
    Rich Holl says:

    I’ve been wondering why my electricity bill went up and after calling Edison several times they finally told me about this Clean Power Alliance Scam!…Cheryl Heitmann, Christy Weir, Lorrie Brown and Sofia Rubalcava will surely be not getting my vote next election and I will tell all my friends and family.

    Reply
    • billfrank
      billfrank says:

      Thanks for your comment, Rich. Yes, the Clean Power Alliance’s increase in the electricity rates came as a surprise to many ratepayers. The four Councilmembers you mentioned were the four votes that carried the rate increase in the City Council. What many people failed to realize is that we are paying more for the same level of clean energy through the CPA as Edison was offering at a lower price. Paying more for the same product is not being fiscally responsible with your money.

      As for voting, we’ve moved to District Elections. We no longer vote on the entire slate of City Council candidates. We vote for the candidate in our respective districts. So, you’ll only be able to vote against Cheryl Heitmann, Christy Weir, Lorrie Brown or Sofia Rubalcava if you live in one of their districts (District 7, 2, 6 or 1, respectively).

      Because you can’t vote for them if you don’t live in their district doesn’t prevent for you campaigning against them. You can devote your time, money and energy to defeating them. Talk it up among your friends and family. One of your acquaintances may live in a district that is voting in the November 2020 election (District 2, 3 and 7).

      Reply
  2. Marquerite Valencia
    Marquerite Valencia says:

    Iam schocked at this increase and it was another $50 on top of bill. As im on a fixed income this is a real blow to finances.

    Reply
  3. Bernie Milligan
    Bernie Milligan says:

    The council members who voted in favor of this economic boondoggle have engaged in political misfeasance bordering on malfeasance. In addition to ignoring the recommendation of the city manager, they have violated the trust placed in them by their constituents. These four should be removed from office.

    Reply
    • billfrank
      billfrank says:

      Bernie, Thanks for your comment. It’s always good to hear from our readers. If it’s any consolation, two of the four that voted for the Clean Power Alliance are no longer in office. Now-Mayor Sofia Rubalcava, Lorrie Brown, Cheryl Heitmann and Christy Weir voted in favor of the Clean Power Alliance for ALL of the city’s high-volume electricity accounts. Cheryl Heitmann decided not to run for re-election in 2020 and is no longer in office. Christy Weir was defeated by Doug Halter in District 2’s election, and she’s no longer in office. Of those voting against the Clean Power Alliance, two are no longer in office. Jim Friedman, then-Mayor Matt LaVere and Erik Nasarenko voted against it for all of the high-use accounts. Matt LaVere was elected to County Supervisor for District 1 and Erik Nasarenko was appointed Ventura County District Attorney. I guess it goes to show you that if you make good decisions, you move on to higher office. (I say that tongue-in-cheek).

      Reply
  4. Mark
    Mark says:

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention we are hard-working farmers my family and I. I can’t believe the rates today I just received a bill was $570 that used to be $190 unbelievable what they have done. They should be hung they Vote these clowns out
    Thank you for let me know about these crooks. They probably took a bribe
    I have opted out now

    Reply
    • billfrank
      billfrank says:

      Mark, I’m glad we could help shed some light on this situation (pun intended). Based on the numbers you shared with me, you did the right thing by opting out.

      Reply

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