A First Look at EBCE 2023-2024 Proposed Budget

(05/2023) East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) Board of Directors and the public got their first look at the agency’s 2023-2024 draft budget at the Executive Committee meeting, Wednesday, May 3. That budget will be discussed at the May 15 meeting of the EBCE Community Advisory Committee, and May 17 by the full Board of Directors. The final budget will be approved at the June 21 Board meeting.

LCEA encourages all EBCE communities to attend the budget meetings to see how their energy dollars are being spent. The Alliance will be pushing for more equitable financing of local projects, recognizing the long history of injustice in how infrastructure money is spent and the urgent need for increased energy resilience in frontline communities.

The most notable aspect of the proposed budget is the size of the surplus that staff predicts. The net increase in position of the agency could be over $177 million, though many changes in costs and benefits could increase or decrease that surplus by a large percentage. Also notable was that the Local Development budget was decreased by over $1 million compared with last year’s over $22 million. This fact was commented on by board members.

In contrast to past budgets, staff’s presentation did not include much detail in how Local Development funds would be spent, but the fact that Community Resilience was only allocated $2 million stood out. That amount was questioned by some board members, as well as Jessica Tovar from Local Clean Energy Alliance and Travis Gibrael from Reclaim Our Power, who urged the Board to recognize the need for increased resilience in frontline communities by installing microgrids on community-trusted locations. EBCE already has a microgrid program in collaboration with its municipalities, but it does not include sites that community based organizations have identified.  Almost $19 million is proposed for building and vehicle electrification, though no details of how that money would be spent were provided last Wednesday.

The proposal did contain some modest good news for customers because of the predicted large surplus. Staff is proposing an increase of 2% in the discount for Bright Choice customers , which means they would be paying 5% less than if they were customers of PG&E. Additionally, staff suggest a reduction in the premium that customers pay for 100% renewable energy. If approved, the new premium would be a quarter of a cent above PG&E rates.

Local Clean Energy Alliance acknowledges that rate discounts are necessary, but saving $12 in a year is not transformative, nor is the proposal for a one-time $50 bill credit for CARE and FERA customers. This is why we advocate for equitable community investments where communities can benefit by feeling and seeing the impact. The Local Development Business Plan is the roadmap for investments in energy programs and projects to create clean energy jobs and build community wealth, impact health by the reduction of pollution to our communities and global climate. This is how we actualize a just transition to clean energy and reach people shut out of the clean energy economy.

EBCE’s next Community Advisory Committee Monday, May 15 at 6pm and Board Meeting Wednesday, May 17 at 6pm information can be found on the EBCE website.

If you would like more information contact Jessica Tovar jessica@localcleanenergy.org