EBCE Board to Vote on 2020-2021 Budget: Local Development Business Plan on Chopping Block?

(06/2020) On June 17, the East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) Board of Directors will vote on a proposed budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. EBCE Staff has pushed a worst case scenario fearing a $60 million shortfall largely due to higher PCIA fees. The PCIA is the on-going fee that Community Choice customers pay to PG&E, to compensate them for lost energy revenues and utility-owned generation sources such as Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. 

At the May 20 EBCE Board meeting, CEO Chaset presented a proposal to increase revenues by reducing the discount for Bright Choice customers, increasing that rate by one-half percent. This would bring $2.7 million dollars additional revenue to EBCE, while only costing the average customer about $1 per year. Of the three alternate proposals presented, two of them pitted the Local Development Business Plan (LDBP) against Bright Choice rate increases. One would save the current discount for Bright Choice customers in exchange for taking $2.7 million out of the Local Development Business Plan. That amount would be all that remains of the Local Development Business plan budget other than the $4 million already exclusively earmarked for electric vehicle charging stations.
East Bay Clean Power Alliance has submitted comments urging the Board to save the Local Development Business Plan from cuts that would decimate programs intended to address racial and income disparity. The Alliance has also called on EBCE staff to present more information about costs and alternative solutions to the agency’s budget problems. It is unacceptable that staff has not presented other ways to make up revenue.
We urge supporters to make comments in support of keeping the Local Development Business plan intact, and to ask the staff for other solutions to make up EBCE revenue. The meeting will be the evening of June 17, and more details on how to watch and make comments will be posted on the EBCE website by Friday, June 12.
None of the four proposals from staff to make up revenue would have much impact on the predicted reduction. The one alternate proposal that did not involve the Local Development Business plan is to increase the rate for Brilliant 100 customers by more than the three percent already included in the proposed budget. Staff did not report how that rate increase would impact revenues.
The Alliance does not understand why staff has not proposed making up any of the expected shortfall for 2021 with some of the $73 million already accumulated in reserves. A Global Pandemic and economic collapse does seem like justification for doing so. 
In general EBCE staff does not present many alternatives for the Board of Directors to consider, which seems to predetermine what the Board will decide. There is also a shortage of financial information in staff presentations such as the cost of different kinds of energy, and the impact of rate increases for average customer bills.
We encourage you to check out the staff’s presentation on the Budget, read East Bay Clean Power Alliance comments and make your own at the EBCE Board meeting, June 17.