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Author: Jim Phelps

OCPA’s Survival Depends on Concealing Documents & Overcharging Electricity Customers

The Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) is in a race against time. On one hand, the agency is facing the public’s increasingly pointed questions about the legitimacy of OCPA’s supposedly clean energy products.

On the other hand, OCPA is stockpiling a massive self-survival reserve fund — growing toward $100 million — to insulate the agency from tens of thousands of electricity customers “opting-out” of OCPA.

The public has asked OCPA to release its CAISO (California Independent System Operator) settlement statements — which would show OCPA’s purchases; resales; and actual delivery of renewable products to the California electricity grid.

So far, OCPA refuses to provide these statements, which contain an accurate accounting of the granular charges incurred by OCPA when its electricity flows over the state’s power grid. CAISO settlement statements also identify much of OCPA’s purchases of system power (dirty brown power).

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OCPA’s “Clean Energy” Conceals Dirty Business

To the detriment of taxpayers and electricity ratepayers, Irvine’s representatives to the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) — Councilmembers Tammy Kim and Kathleen Treseder — do little more than parrot agency talking points while the City of Irvine spends millions of dollars on questionable clean electricity. OCPA, like many Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs), is loaded with dirty “brown power” deliveries (generated by fossil fuels) that are concealed from the public to protect OCPA’s “green energy” claims.

The following illustrates the problem: 

1. Councilmembers Treseder and Kim naively believe OCPA’s energy contracts reveal actual energy deliveries. They apparently do not know that power purchase agreements (PPAs) do not tell us what OCPA actually delivers to its customers.

2. Councilmembers Treseder and Kim also believe power content labels represent OCPA’s actual energy content. During an October 8th event, Treseder inaccurately stated that OCPA “has delivered to all four cities — all businesses and residents — 95.5% renewable energy.” And at a City Council meeting, Kim said the power content label “shows OCPA is producing renewable energy,” which is partially true, but not to the extent portrayed by the label.

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Open Letter to Irvine City Council: Time Will Not Fix OCPA

The problems at the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) are systemic — shared by all community choice aggregators (CCAs) — because CCAs use many of the same high-paid consultants promoting the same so-called “best practices.”

Four of these “best practices” mirror unscrupulous practices notoriously employed by Enron, in the run-up to its multi-billion-dollar bankruptcy 20 years ago:

1. OCPA games the California electricity grid via Resource Adequacy (RA) for financial gain while putting its ratepayers at risk of blackouts.

2. Mirroring Enron behavior, OCPA takes the monetary savings from each Irvine ratepayer and transfers them to OCPA’s own accounts through a price-manipulation practice known as “benchmarking.”

3. Reminiscent of Enron, OCPA declines to open all of its energy books to public scrutiny, denying consumers independent verification of just how much brown power (gas-fired) is being delivered.

4. Mayor Khan sought to eliminate “greenwashing” with Renewable Energy Certificates. But, similar to Enron’s gaming, OCPA is heavily engaged in greenwashing.

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