In 2019, the previous City Council — led by now-Mayor Farrah Khan, now-Vice Mayor Anthony Kuo and current City Councilmember Mike Carroll — decided to have the City of Irvine join Orange County Power Authority (OCPA).
Carroll is Chairman of the six-member OCPA board and Khan is also a board member. (Both Carroll and Khan receive compensation for their positions on the OCPA board.)
This year, every business operating in the City of Irvine and every Irvine household will be transferred from their current provider of electricity, Southern California Edison (SCE), and enrolled in the OCPA plan.
In April, all Irvine-based businesses were transferred over to the new OCPA plan, with commercial customers now paying as much as 6% more each month for their electricity usage. In October, all Irvine households will be transferred from SCE to OCPA, with a similar price hike.
Khan, Kuo and Carroll also voted to have Irvine taxpayer money fund OCPA through 2022. So far, $7.7 million has been advanced to OCPA, without any detailed financial information provided to the City. OCPA has not been forthcoming with information regarding electricity purchasing agreements, as well as the hiring of staff, consultants and lawyers. According to the agency’s website, the Power Authority’s projected loss for 2022 and 2023 will be a staggering $42 million.
Last month, Councilmember Larry Agran renewed his repeated request that a full report be provided at a public City Council meeting regarding the status of OCPA. Due to the Mayor’s unpopular “Rule of Two” — requiring support from a second Councilmember — Agran’s latest request didn’t make it onto the May 12th Council meeting agenda.
Over the past year, Agran has been the only member of the City Council to ask questions about OCPA’s operations and seek details on how Irvine taxpayer money is being spent at the Power Authority. In fact, the other Councilmembers — apparently working in concert — have kept each of Agran’s requests regarding OCPA off the City Council meeting agenda.
During the May 3rd OCPA monthly board meeting, a slide show was presented as part of the staff report. The report indicated that during April, 71% of commercial customers remained in the “default” OCPA electricity plan (100% renewable); 18% “opted-down” to the 69% renewable plan; and 11% “opted-down” to the 38% renewable.
Two of the largest consumers of electricity in Irvine — Irvine Ranch Water District and Irvine Unified School District — have publicly stated that they have “opted-out” of OCPA altogether.
Despite being asked, OCPA has not released the list of commercial customers that have opted-down or opted out of the Power Authority.