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Publisher’s Perspective: How Much More Irvine Taxpayer & Ratepayer Money Will Be Wasted on OCPA?

by

It has now been a year since the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) launched. In April 2022, all Irvine-based businesses were automatically transferred from their previous electricity provider — Southern California Edison (SCE) — and enrolled in the OCPA electricity plan at a significantly higher rate. Six months later, in October 2022, Irvine residents were enrolled in OCPA, also at a higher monthly rate.

When Councilmember Larry Agran joined the Council in late 2020, he became the only member of the Irvine City Council to raise red flags about the City’s involvement in OCPA and its forced enrollment — without a vote of the people.

In fact, Agran’s Council colleagues spent nearly two years blocking his repeated efforts to agendize a public discussion of OCPA to determine why Irvine electricity customers were going to be charged higher rates than SCE charges its customers for the same 100% renewable energy.

After investigations by the Orange County Grand Jury, the County of Orange, and the State of California revealed corruption, political cronyism, mismanagement, and deceptive practices at OCPA, Agran found an unlikely ally — Irvine City Councilmember Mike Carroll who chaired the OCPA Board until this year.

Last December, after the Orange County Board of Supervisors announced their withdrawal, Carroll supported Councilmember Agran’s motion for Irvine to give OCPA a notice of withdrawal from the agency, effective July 1, 2023 — with the caveat that the withdrawal would be rescinded if OCPA had taken concrete steps to address the problems identified by the Grand Jury report and County of Orange audit. If Agran’s motion had passed, the whole OCPA disaster would be behind us in just a couple of months.

Instead, Mayor Farrah Khan, Vice Mayor Tammy Kim and newly-elected Councilmember Kathleen Treseder refused to support Agran’s motion. Their NO vote means that Irvine is now stuck in OCPA for another year.

So, what does that mean for Irvine business owners and our City’s residents?

The City of Irvine, which is considered a business customer of OCPA, purchases a lot of electricity — around $500,000 every month — to light and cool our City facilities.

Since being enrolled in the new OCPA plan last April, the City of Irvine has been paying $90,000 per month more for the same 100% renewable electricity that SCE provides its business customers. That’s more than a million Irvine taxpayer dollars that have been wasted in just 12 months.

According to the SCE website, Irvine residential customers are also paying more. On average, residents are being charged $30.52 more every month by OCPA for the same 100% renewable electricity that SCE offers. That means, on average, Irvine families are now paying $366.24 more in electricity costs each year … and getting nothing for it.

Here are two questions that every Irvine resident and business owner should be asking Mayor Khan, Vice Mayor Kim and Councilmember Treseder. First, why was I forced into a more expensive electricity plan without my permission? And second, why are my taxpayer dollars continuing to be wasted on the OCPA fiasco — after investigations by the County and the State Auditor have revealed widespread mismanagement and even corruption within the agency?

Residents who wish to opt-out of OCPA can do so by clicking here. You will need to scroll down to the bottom of the webpage where you will see an opt-out form (located along the right side of the page). You can also just call 1-866-262-7693 to opt-out by phone. (You will need to have your SCE account number handy.)

Franklin J. Lunding

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