Since Irvine Community News & Views began reporting on the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA), readers have been emailing us questions.
Here are the top ten questions our staff has received:
- What is the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA)?
The OCPA (established in 2020) is an independent, locally governed, not-for-profit Community Choice Energy Provider of electricity for all residential and commercial customers in Irvine, Fullerton, Huntington Beach, Buena Park, and the unincorporated areas of Orange County.
- Is it true that Irvine taxpayer money is funding the OCPA?
Yes. The former City Council entered into an agreement for the City of Irvine to fund the OCPA through 2022. So far, $7.7 million of Irvine taxpayer money has been advanced to the OCPA.
- Where has the $7.7 million of Irvine taxpayer money gone?
We don’t know. The OCPA has not provided the City of Irvine with any detailed financial information regarding purchasing agreements or 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 $42 million.
- Am I being enrolled in the OCPA without my expressed permission?
Yes. The City of Irvine has joined the OCPA. As a result, all businesses operating in the City of Irvine are being transferred this month from their current provider of electricity, Southern California Edison (SCE) and enrolled in the new OCPA plan. Later this year — in October — all Irvine residential customers will be transferred from SCE to OCPA.
- Will we pay less for electricity under the OCPA plan?
No. The business and residential plans selected by the City of Irvine are more expensive than SCE. Residential customers will pay as much as 6% more for electricity than they currently pay to SCE. Commercial customers will also pay more … unless they “opt-down” to the 38% renewable rate, which will cost the same as SCE.
- Will we get electricity derived from 100% renewable sources?
No. The electricity you receive from OCPA will remain the same to every household and business. It will be provided to your home through SCE transmission lines. However, the expectation is that the money you pay into OCPA will be used to purchase cleaner energy down the road.
- Has OCPA followed through on its promise to create local sustainable programs?
No, not yet. Although the Power Agency’s website states that local sustainable programs will be created, our staff has been unable to find any such programs that have been established in the first two years of the agency’s existence.
- Can I stay with SCE?
Yes. Businesses can “opt-out” within five days of being transferred out of SCE and enrolled in OCPA by calling 1-866-262-7693. Once residents receive their enrollment notice — which is expected to be mailed out sometime in August — they will be able to call the same phone number to opt-out of OCPA and remain with SCE.
- Is OCPA installing their own electric power lines?
No. SCE will continue to maintain the grid, repair power lines, and provide Irvine customers one consolidated utility bill that includes OCPA electric generation charges and SCE electric delivery charges.
- What happens if the OCPA fails?
If the OCPA fails, commercial and residential customers will be transferred back to SCE. As far as the $7.7 million of Irvine taxpayer money that has been advanced to the OCPA so far, at the November 9, 2021 Council meeting, the Irvine City Attorney said the City “will not get repaid.”