From left, Allison Mannos, Clean Power Alliance, So Pas City Councilmember Diana Mahmud. Photo by Steve Whitmore

A public meeting about South Pasadena’s new clean power program was well-attended despite the heavy and constant downpour of rain from the latest round of powerful storms moving through the area.

South Pasadena, as of this month, has joined the Clean Power Alliance (CPA), which will provide clean, sustainable energy, such as solar and wind power, to residents. The CPA will provide the energy that will be delivered by Southern California Edison (SCE).

City officials, along with a CPA representative, held a public meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at the So Pas Public Library’s Community Room, 1115 El Centro St.

“We recognize this is a big change for the community,” said John Pope, the city’s public information officer. “People have a lot of questions. We wanted to have a public meeting with representatives of the Clean Power Alliance and our Councilmember Diana Mahmud, who is chair of the board. She will be here to present information on the Clean Power Alliance, answer questions and hopefully address any concerns that people have about this change.”

The bills have already started to go out and residents have started to ask questions about the new service that could produce an increase in their bills by as much as nine percent, according to officials. It also could produce a decrease in their bill or stay about the same, depending on the level of service they choose.

City officials were dismayed with the heavy downpour Feb. 13, saying there might understandably be a light turnout but just the opposite occurred.

More than 30 residents fought through the rain and wind to attend the meeting because, they say, although “clean power is a good thing, the new program is confusing.”

“It seems like clean power will be better,” Barbara Klein, a 45-year resident of South Pasadena., said after the 90-minute meeting ended. “You know, it’s going to be better for a us and the world, I understand that, but the new program is confusing. It’s just going to take a little bit of time until we really see how it works. At least at this point, I realize we are on it and I’ll probably stay with it.”

Residents can opt out of the new program, according to Allison Mannos, CPA senior manager of marketing & customer engagement. If they do opt out, though, they remain out of the new program for 12 months, depending on when they decide to remove themselves from the CPA, Mannos said.

Mannos acknowledged that customers have questions because of the change, which is why the CPA holds the public meetings.

“This is a part of a series of community education presentations that we are doing throughout our service territory,” Mannos said. “We want to make sure our customers understand their options. How the service is going to work right now in the residential enrollment phase. So we just want to inform people so they can figure out what works for them. This is a big change…people have confusion about this and we are also asking them to be very conscientious and active, engaged customers and that’s a new paradigm. There’s a lot of things layered upon each other.”

As an example, CPA offers three basic tiers of service, according to Mannos. They are Lean Power, which offers the customer 36 percent renewable content; Clean Power, which offers 50 percent renewable content; and 100 percent Green Power. Lean Power will be a slight savings to the customer. Clean Power will cost about the same and Green Power will cost more, up to nine percent.

Moreover, So Pas residents are automatically enrolled in the Green Power plan.

“That’s the default position for South Pasadena,” Mannos said. “Everyone starts there. They can opt out of that but that is the default position for South Pasadena.”

The SCE February bills have the CPA charges listed.

Meanwhile, the CPA boasts dozens of cities and unincorporated areas in Los Angeles and Ventura counties that will be purchasing energy from sustainable, non-fossil-fuel sources and making it available to residents.

Those cities include Agoura Hills, Alhambra, Arcadia, Beverly Hills, Calabasas, Camarillo, Claremont, Carson, Culver City, Downey, Hawaiian Gardens, Hawthorne, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Moorpark, Ojai, Oxnard, Paramount, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills Estates, Santa Monica, Sierra Madre, Simi Valley, Temple City, Thousand Oaks, Ventura, West Hollywood and Whittier.

The CPA will purchase renewable energy such as solar and wind power and make it available to residents and businesses by way of Southern California Edison (SCE). The Alliance is an organization formed by Los Angeles and Ventura counties and will be serving about 1 million customers, including South Pasadena commercial and municipal customers starting in May.

City officials have long said they want So Pas to be 100 percent reliant on this type of clean, sustainable energy and joining the alliance was a step in that direction.

In fact, Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian addressed the issue in her inaugural address at the Dec. 19 City Council meeting. She explained why the city needs to become 100 percent reliant on clean, sustainable energy.

“I’d like share a few thoughts on the most pressing issue of our time.

That is the environment and climate change,” Khubesrian said to the gathered audience in council chambers back in January. “There is no greater cause than the crisis now facing our planet. All other progress will mean nothing if the planet becomes uninhabitable because of the continued use of fossil fuels. Tragically this issue is being ignored, and even made worse, by the policies of our current Presidential administration. But, we can be leaders here at home. Everything we do at the city can, and will, be viewed through the lens of sustainability and climate change. The solutions are within our grasp, if we act boldly, and we act now. 

“I’m proud that South Pasadena has joined the Clean Power Alliance, which will begin delivering 100 percent green, sustainable energy to our city this year. It will start in February for residents and in May for businesses. … For the first time ever, we will be able to purchase energy that has been generated entirely from sustainable, non-fossil-fuel sources. We have opted for 100 percent renewable energy–one of eight cities in LA and Ventura Counties to do so thus far.  It’s like having a solar panel on every roof in the city, generating 100 percent clean power. This is a major and important step.”

Councilwoman Diana Mahmud is going to serve as the first head of the CPA governing board.

There are three distinct advantages to the CPA, Mahmud said. They are local management and control; stable, competitive rates; and higher renewable content.

Because South Pasadena is already a member of the alliance, customers here do not have to do anything, Mahmud also said.

“I [have] to tell you as a 30-year South Pasadena resident, this to me really speaks to South Pasadena,” Mahmud said in an earlier interview. “This is who we are. We believe in local control. We believe that communities are empowered…we are an engaged community.”

Mahmud summed up the importance of the CPA program, saying “it’s really for the children.”

“I think probably the most important characteristic of South Pasadena is the fact that we love our children,” Mahmud said prior to the start of the public meeting on Feb. 13. “We are really a family-centered community. When I think about the future ramifications of climate change, which I’m not so sure about our lifetime but with certainty our children will experience, I think it’s incumbent upon us now to do what we can to at least mitigate the effects of climate change so that we can provide a better future for our children. This is a meaningful contribution.”

The CPA also will be available to local commercial customers in May and they could save up to 3 percent on their electric bills.

For more information, people can contact the Clean Power Alliance at (888) 585-3788 or at its website  customerservice@cleanpoweralliance.org.

Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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