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Climate and Environment

Huntington Beach Votes To Leave Orange County Power Authority

An aerial view of an oil field shows a group of pumpjacks scattered around the field surrounding what appears to be a natural pool.
An aerial view shows oil pumpjacks at the Huntington Beach Oil Fields on April 20, 2020 in Huntington Beach, California.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)
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The Huntington Beach City Council voted to exit the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) late Tuesday.

The decision is a major setback for the clean energy agency, which recently fired its CEO and made other major changes in an effort to address transparency and management concerns and improve its public image.

The vote was 4 to 3 and led by the city's newly elected council, which has a Republican majority.

About 30% of the OCPA's residential and business customers are in Huntington Beach, so leaving will shrink the clean power agency unless it finds new cities to sign on.

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Why now?

The city's council had expressed concerns about the agency in recent months and asked to review the OCPA's power purchase agreements. But Tuesday's last-minute special meeting to vote on withdrawing from the OCPA came as a surprise to many of those closely involved with the power authority and city government.

What happens next?

The split from the agency won't take full effect until July 2024 per the rules of the joint powers agreement that governs the OCPA.

But the exit announcement is a big blow to the clean energy agency and Orange County's ability to meet climate goals.

The county withdrew from the OCPA in December and all of the other member cities — Irvine, Buena Park and Fullerton — have recently considered withdrawing. Huntington Beach is the first city to take that step. (Lake Forest was initially a member of the OCPA but pulled out before the agency started offering electricity service to customers.)

What can customers expect?

Huntington Beach residents and businesses will likely no longer be able to choose to pay for 100% renewable energy. And their electricity bills may actually go up — currently OCPA's basic rate plan is cheaper than the one offered through Southern California Edison.

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Updated May 17, 2023 at 9:59 AM PDT
This story was updated with details from the vote on Tuesday.
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