California just made it more expensive to leave Southern California Edison, PG&E and SDG&E

by Sammy Roth, Palm Springs Desert Sun

The California Public Utilities Commission voted Thursday to raise the cost of leaving an investor-owned electric utility, in a move critics said would stifle the growth of locally run energy programs and make it harder for communities to invest in renewable energy.

The commission’s vote will increase the monthly “exit fees” that homes and businesses must pay to Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric or San Diego Gas & Electric after switching to a local energy program. Such “community choice” programs, known as CCAs, allow local governments to make their own energy purchases and set electricity rates for customers. Community choice is an increasingly popular option for cities and counties looking to lower utility bills and provide cleaner power options.

Nineteen CCAs are now operating in California, including one in Rancho Mirage. There are more in the works, including one spanning Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Palm Desert, and another that would cover unincorporated parts of Riverside County.

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