Whose Community Power?

(11/2021) Last Wednesday, November 10, a board meeting of California Community Power (CCPower) put the title of the agency in doubt by ignoring a significant amount of community feedback from labor, environmental justice and Community Choice advocacy organizations. These community representatives were urging the CCPower Board to reject a proposal that would allow them to  not develop policies to guide the collaborative projects the agency implements. Such policies could set standards to safeguard labor and environmental justice concerns. The Board chose to reject community feedback and passed the non-policy making policy 8 votes to 2. 

CCPower is a joint powers authority made up of CEOs and Directors from ten California Community Choice Energy agencies CCas). East Bay Community Power (EBCE) is one of the ten. Nick Chaset, EBCE’s CEO was one of the 2 no votes last Wednesday.
Letters from Trade Unions and a number of Environmental Organizations, called on CCPower to develop policies regarding issues such as project labor agreements, local contractor and local hire  preferences, and engagement with environmental justice communities were submitted to the Board prior to the meeting. Many representatives of those organizations also made public comments at the meeting, urging the Board to reject the recommendation that CCPower not develop such policies. Comments pointed out that the agency will be setting de facto policies with the implementation of projects, the question is simply whether or not those policies will be intentional and beneficial to the communities they serve. 
CCPower Staff relied heavily on the argument that as a joint powers agency, they had no authority to set such policies. Several of the public comments pointed out that Community Choice agencies are also joint powers and make policy all the time. They also pointed out that the core purpose of CCPower, like the CCAs that make them up, is to benefit the public they serve.
The vote was followed by much wringing of hands by Board members, likely uncomfortable at rejecting so many impassioned comments from the public and a proposal to hold a public workshop on the issue in the (undetermined) future.