Last week, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to initiate an independent investigation into the embattled Orange County Power Authority (OCPA). The only County Supervisor to vote against the investigation was former Irvine Mayor Don Wagner. It should be noted that Wagner sits on the 6-member OCPA board, along with Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan and Irvine Councilmember Mike Carroll.
This year, all electricity customers in Irvine (residential and business) are being transferred from their current provider — Southern California Edison (SCE) — and automatically enrolled in a new OCPA electricity plan at a higher monthly rate.
In their vote, Orange County Supervisors said that it was wrong for OCPA to automatically switch residents to a 7% more expensive electricity plan than what they currently pay for electricity service provided by Southern California Edison (SCE).
A year-long Grand Jury investigation into OCPA revealed the following: OCPA is being led by a political insider with zero experience in the energy sector; OCPA bylaws and policies to promote transparency have not been properly implemented; there has been a lack of oversight of contractors with not enough checks and balances in place; and OCPA lacks the in-house staff to develop and implement strategic plans to mitigate economic risks.
Shortly before the Grand Jury report was released to the public, California regulators fined OCPA nearly $2 million for not purchasing enough electricity to avoid blackouts.
Since taking office, Irvine City Councilmember Larry Agran has been the only member of the Irvine City Council to raise red flags about OCPA, questioning the agency’s inexperienced leadership and lack of transparency. (OCPA has refused to release even basic financial and accounting documents to the City of Irvine, even though Irvine taxpayers are funding the agency through 2022 — already advancing $7.7 million to the troubled Power Authority.)
Agran’s Council colleagues spent nearly a year blocking his repeated requests for a public discussion and audit of OCPA. Unwilling to be silenced, Agran began using his 3-minutes of “Announcements” during each Council meeting to update the community on what appears to be mounting evidence of corruption at the Power Authority.
Agran has also questioned the City’s decision to automatically force people into the new, more costly OCPA plan, saying: “It may be legal, but to have automatically enrolled every Irvine resident into a new, more expensive electricity plan without a vote of the people was flat-out wrong!”
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