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Irvine Leaders Must Do More Than Just Talk About Supporting Climate Action!

by

Earth Day was April 22nd. In the run-up to this year’s celebration, elected officials delivered speeches regarding their support for taking bold action to address climate change. But what substantive actions have they actually taken?

Here in Irvine, Mayor Farrah Khan sent a 2020 end-of-the-year recap to her supporters claiming that she “had created and implemented a Climate Action Plan.” That statement was false.

It wasn’t until June 22, 2021 that the Irvine City Council passed a resolution calling for a Climate Action Plan. That plan has not been implemented. In fact, it doesn’t yet exist — it is still in the development stages.

In August of 2021, the Council passed another resolution pledging that the City would reach carbon-neutrality by 2030. While I applaud the resolution, once again, there is no actual plan in place to meet that ambitious goal.

During that same 2020 recap, Khan took credit for Irvine joining the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) and claiming that it would “reduce costs & create environmentally sustainable programs.” That statement was also false. Both commercial and residential customers in Irvine will be paying more for electricity under the new OCPA plan. And, no environmentally sustainable programs have been created by OCPA since the agency was established two years ago.

This month, all Irvine businesses are being transferred from their current provider of electricity, Southern California Edison, and enrolled in the OCPA.

According to a February 8th presentation by the Irvine City Manager, very small businesses that currently pay, on average, $200 per month for electricity will pay $13.50 more; medium-sized businesses will pay $1,350 more each month; and large commercial customers will pay an additional $6,000 per month or more.

In October, all Irvine residents will be transferred out of SCE and enrolled into the OCPA plan, which will also raise their monthly electricity bill.

While I am supportive of the concept of Community Choice Energy programs, I am not supportive of promising lower electricity costs and then imposing what is effectively a backdoor utility tax hike on all residents and businesses, without a vote of the people.

All Irvine businesses and residents are being transferred out of their current provider of electricity and enrolled in a new program they didn’t choose … and that will result in higher monthly electricity rates.

As we approach another Earth Day, we must demand that our leaders do more than talk about supporting the environment. They must take action to deliver on the promises they have made … and they must be called out when they are not truthful with us.

Franklin J. Lunding

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