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Climate and Environment

OC Supervisors Nix Contract With Power Supplier After Concerns About Management

The sunset creates a bright orange glow behind a series of transmission towers and power lines in Los Angeles
The sun sets behind transmission towers and power lines.
(Robert Thiemann
/
Unsplash)
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Topline:

In a 3-2 vote, the Orange County Board of Supervisors ended a contract with the Orange County Power Authority. The non-profit community choice energy provider had faced a grand jury investigation and several audits, but local clean energy advocates said the issues were largely fixable, not nefarious.

Why it matters: The O.C. Power Authority is a community choice energy provider that allows local governments to negotiate the purchase of their electricity directly, instead of relying on for-profit investor-owned utilities such as Southern California Edison. The non-profit model has helped cities across the state get cleaner energy at affordable rates.

Who do they currently serve? The O.C. Power Authority has provided electricity to Irvine, Huntington Beach, Fullerton and Buena Park since October. It was set to start providing power to unincorporated parts of Orange County in late 2023, but supervisors ended the contract, a move that could cost the county $65 million.

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Why now: A grand jury investigation and several audits found multiple management and transparency issues, including concerns about the lack of experience of senior staff and some instances of misleading or contradictory information about rates.

What's next: Irvine, Huntington Beach, Fullerton and Buena Park will need to decide if they’ll also pull their contracts.