By Sara Appel.
Residents of Rancho Mirage, a desert community that regularly posts high temperatures in the 100-plus range during the months of July and August, can look forward to a welcome respite from equally high cooling bills this summer.
On May 1, 2018, Rancho Mirage Energy Authority (RMEA), the City of Rancho Mirage’s Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program and an Associate Member of California Choice Energy Authority (CCEA), is scheduled to launch with five percent rate savings for residents and businesses.
“Given the high-temperature climate of Rancho Mirage, utility bills can be a significant burden in our community,” says Isaiah Hagerman, City of Rancho Mirage Director of Administrative Services. “The City’s objective for RMEA is to balance rate savings with green initiatives. While we are focusing on renewable energy and positive environmental impacts, we also are striving to offer an affordable program that provides high rate savings.”
RMEA’s high rate savings are not a surprise to the City; a feasibility study conducted by CCEA in 2017 projected RMEA’s program rates to be one to five percent lower than Southern California Edison’s similar generation rates. RMEA’s rate setting plan is designed to provide rates that achieve rate competitiveness, rate stability and revenue sufficiency among other advantages. Program rates, subject to energy product pricing, are ultimately approved by the Rancho Mirage City Council.
“High rate savings are only the start of the benefits the Rancho Mirage community will see from RMEA. With the potential of RMEA and fiscal strength of Rancho Mirage, the community will also see long-term benefits as we embark on new community programs funded by CCA revenue,” adds Hagerman.
According to the feasibility study, the City expects an overall participation rate of 90 percent of eligible Southern California Edison (SCE) bundled customers. Customers will be automatically enrolled in the RMEA program unless they opt-out during the 60-day period prior to enrollment and 60-day period following the program’s launch. Participation rates are not expected to vary significantly among income classes as the City will offer rates that address the needs of low-income customers.
Following completion of CCEA’s feasibility study, RMEA became an Associate Member of CCEA in October 2017. CCEA provides RMEA assistance with power procurement, load forecasting, legal affairs and rate analysis among various other services.
“Forming our CCA through CCEA’s model has been a huge advantage and part of the reason that we are able to offer high rate savings and be the first to launch a CCA program in the Coachella Valley,” adds Hagerman. “CCEA’s model allowed us to walk into a process that was already set up and working, so we were able to implement an independent CCA with expert guidance.”
CCEA is a pioneering Community Choice Aggregation solution for cities in California. The hybrid joint powers authority provides an innovative model that retains local control of utility services for cities who partner with CCEA while alleviating operational risk and administrative overhead associated with the implementation of CCA. For more information, please visit https://californiachoiceenergyauthority.com/.