Local governments have faced numerous, unexpected challenges in recent months due to the coronavirus pandemic, and CalChoice has been advocating to ensure that Southern California Edison (SCE) equitably treats CCAs as the utility makes decisions in light of COVID-19.
In response to the pandemic, SCE has implemented several protections to ensure that customers who have been financially affected by coronavirus and are having trouble paying their energy bill continue to receive electricity. SCE has ensured all customers continue to receive energy through various methods including offering partial payment arrangements. Through its advocacy efforts, CalChoice has ensured that CCAs will receive an equal share of partial payments.
“CCAs are not as widespread as investor-owned utilities yet, but they must still be treated equitably as utilities take action steps to protect customers during this difficult time,” said CalChoice Executive Director Jason Caudle. “Our goal is to ensure CCAs are not left behind or negatively impacted by SCE’s response to the pandemic.”
Among its efforts to protect customers, SCE has suspended service disconnections for nonpayments, waived late fees, streamlined processes for customers who want to apply for low- income qualified programs such as CARE and FERA, and is providing flexible payment arrangements to assist those who have been financially impact by COVID-19.
“CCAs are unique among utilities in that revenue they generate is reinvested directly into the community that they serve,” continued Caudle. “It has been essential for us to work with SCE and ensure that our associate members, and all other CCAs in SCE territory, are protected and positioned to continue to put funds back into their communities.”
Because CCAs are locally managed, not-for-profit entities, any excess revenue is reinvested into the community through on-bill savings and innovative energy programs, often focusing on historically underserved and disadvantaged communities, including rebates, no-cost and low-cost energy programs, job training and employment and more.
“During these difficult times, we’re putting a greater emphasis on advocating for our CCAs,” said Lancaster Mayor and CalChoice Chair R. Rex Parris. “Each of our associate members started their implementation process with a thorough analysis of feasibility, costs and benefits, so they have a solid foundation; still, we will do everything in our power to ensure they’re treated equitably and not negatively impacted by the pandemic.”
CalChoice offers support for local governments in every phase of the CCA program implementation process, providing feasibility services to determine whether a CCA program is appropriate, developing implementation plans for members to submit to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and managing the implementation process to launch the CCA program, as well as continuing to support members once their CCA program becomes operational. To learn more about partnering opportunities with CalChoice, please visit www.CaliforniaChoiceEnergyAuthority.com.