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Category: Irvine

The City’s New “Get ‘Er Done!” Department

After being listed for years on the City’s sustainability plan, the transformation of City Hall’s parking lots into solar generating centers began this past summer.

Then, in August, construction of a new Animal Care Center was finally OK’d to go to bid — four years after the design contract had been approved.

And in November, a pedestrian-and-bicycle overpass at the 5 Freeway — to link the north and south legs of the Jeffrey Open Space Trail — was given the green light to go to bid, also four years after the design had been approved.

What do these long-delayed projects have in common?

They are all now in the hands of the City’s new Project Delivery and Sustainability Department, whose sole job is to “get ‘er done.”

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Publisher’s Perspective: The More We Learn about OCPA, the Clearer it is that the City of Irvine Must Cut Ties with the Agency

Last year, all Irvine electricity customers were automatically enrolled in the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA), without a vote of the people.

OCPA promised to deliver greener electricity at lower monthly rates, and to be fully transparent with the public. But, even before OCPA had officially launched, the agency had broken all three promises.

From day one, Irvine electricity customers have been charged higher monthly rates than we paid to Southern California Edison (SCE).

And, the agency refuses to release all records that show OCPA’s purchase of system power (dirty brown power); and OCPA’s resale of wind and solar power — demonstrating actual delivery of advertised renewables to OCPA ratepayers.

Promising to do a positive thing and then doing the exact opposite is called “bait-and-switch.”

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Councilmember Tammy Kim & the Korean American Chamber of Commerce: Pay-to-Play Politics?

Last month, Councilmember Tammy Kim directed $5,000 of City funds to the Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County (KACCOC) and sought another $50,000 in City funds for the organization, all after she received a maximum campaign donation from the Chamber’s president, who also hosted a fundraiser for Kim’s mayoral campaign.

The donation from KACCOC President Shang Il “Sean” Roh was received by Kim’s mayoral campaign in February, according to an official campaign financial report filed in July and signed by Councilmember Kim. In June, Roh hosted a fundraiser for Kim’s campaign that was attended by several current and former Korean American Chamber officials.

Three months later, Kim placed two items on the City Council agenda involving the Chamber. The first was a donation of $5,000 in Community Partnership Fund money to the KACCOC Foundation.

The second item Kim proposed was for the City to give $50,000 from federal COVID relief funds to the Chamber for a sponsorship at the World Korean Business Convention to be held in Anaheim and co-sponsored by the Chamber.

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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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City Council Selects Citizen-Drawn District Map

The City Council has finalized a measure to be placed on the March 2024 ballot that, if approved by voters, would expand the Council to seven members — a Mayor elected by all Irvine voters; and six Councilmembers elected by voters in their geographical district.

As part of the process, the Council selected the final map that will be implemented if Irvine voters approve the City’s transition to district elections.

After months of citizen-drawn submissions, it came down to two maps: Map 151 and Map 163. The majority of public commenters endorsed Map 151, noting that its districts are more compact, the most contiguous in nature, and are walkable districts with villages kept intact.

Mayor Farrah Khan, along with Councilmembers Larry Agran and Mike Carroll agreed with residents that Map 151 was the most equitable choice. All three voted to support it.

Meanwhile, Councilmembers Tammy Kim and Kathleen Treseder voted against Map 151, saying that Map 163 was better for Asian and Pacific Islander (API) districts and renter-majority districts.

However, their arguments were contradicted by the facts. Map 163 would create API districts ranging from 29% to 44% while Map 151 creates API districts ranging from 27% to 50%. And, Kim & Treseder’s map would create only three renter-majority districts while Map 151 establishes four renter-majority districts.

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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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