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Top Ten Questions Answered Regarding the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA)

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Rate comparison sheet from the SCE website

Since Irvine Community News & Views began reporting on the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA), readers have been emailing us questions.

Below are the top ten questions our staff has received (and answered):

  1. What is the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA)?
    The OCPA (established in 2019) 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.

     
  2. 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.

     
  3. 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 $41 million. Earlier this year, the Grand Jury released a scathing report — charging OCPA with incompetence, cronyism and corruption. There are currently three audits of OCPA underway (City of Irvine, County of Orange and California State Auditor), two of the member cities (Huntington Beach and Buena Park) have passed no-confidence votes in OCPA, and there is an ongoing FBI investigation of OCPA.

     
  4. 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 were transferred in April from their previous provider of electricity — Southern California Edison (SCE) — and enrolled in the new OCPA plan at a significantly higher monthly rate.  During October, all Irvine residential customers were transferred from SCE to OCPA, also at a higher monthly electricity rate.

     
  5. 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. An average Irvine household will pay about $36 more for the OCPA 100% renewable electricity rate than the SCE 100% renewable rate. Commercial customers are paying significantly more … unless they chose to “opt-down” to the 38% renewable rate, which costs the same as the current SCE rate. In fact, the City’s own electricity use was transferred over to OCPA last April, and the City is now spending $100,000 per month more for electricity.

     
  6. Will we get cleaner electricity than SCE provides its customers?
    No. SCE also provides 100% renewable electricity to its customers. However, OCPA acts as a middleman by charging its customers approximately 18% more than SCE.
     
  7. 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.
     
  8. Can I stay with SCE?
    Yes. Business and residential ratepayers can “opt-out” of OCPA by calling (866) 262-7693.

     
  9. 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.
     
  10. 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.”
ICNV Staff
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