WHAT'S THIS ABOUT?
Defaults are an incredibly powerful tool to affect change. A default is something you're automatically enrolled in, though you still maintain freedom to choose something else. Studies show that most people stick with the default.
A classic example is employer-based retirement plans. If employees are automatically enrolled in a plan, there's a much higher participation rate than if employees individually have to opt in.
When it comes to renewable energy, municipalities participating in Community Choices Aggregators (CCAs) have the opportunity to choose a default renewable energy. Entire communities - millions of people - are now being powered by 100% renewable energy because of the default decisions made by local governments.
Simply by setting the default at 100% renewable energy, communities can immediately and dramatically reduce emissions and help mitigate climate change.
CASE FOR 100%
The urgency of the climate crisis necessitates that we transition to clean renewable energy immediately. The UN IPCC issued a dire report, a "code red for humanity", warning that all governments, at all levels everywhere, must make rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society to keep temperatures under 1.5°C. This means no more baby steps, no more half measures, no more kicking the can down the road. How your community responds matters and has an impact far beyond the city boundaries. The great news is that there are solutions like the 100% green default to help us get where we need to go!
Industry studies reveal there is overwhelming public support for renewable energy, and people are willing to pay more for it. In other words, the public wants cleaner energy and they want it now. Since we want more renewable energy, then our defaults should support that.
Defaults are extremely important. Behavioral studies demonstrate that a vast majority of people stick with the default. (Check out the work of behavioral economics experts Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein.)
By setting the default at 100%, we will get much more participation at that level than if we set it at a lower tier. Only a small percentage of customers opt down, most remain at 100%. Likewise, if we set the default at a lower tier, that’s mostly what we’ll get. Despite our best intentions, few of us would opt up, not because we don’t want to, often just because of inertia or the busyness of life.
Rather than waiting for one...person...at...a...time...to install solar or individually enroll in clean energy, we can make it easy for entire populations to "go green".
The default isn't a mandate, it isn't a rate hike, it is simply a suggestion, customers have the freedom to choose another plan. Why would we want to suggest anything other than 100% clean energy and encourage a dramatic reduction in polluting emissions? Customers are made aware of the options and can easily switch to another rate plat at any time.
While the 100% renewable product might currently have a slightly higher rate than the IOU's base product (though that is rapidly changing), the renewable content is significantly more, so it's a compelling return and a small price to pay for the long-term benefits. While there might be a slight rate savings in a lower renewable product, there’s far less renewable content, and we must consider the costs of externalities associated with more polluting emissions. Emissions are costly to our society and need to be factored into our decision-making. The perception of saving a dollar or two in the short term is a dangerous illusion.
It’s fiscally responsible, economically prudent, to invest the nominal amount now for clean energy to avoid the more costly long-term consequences of unmitigated climate disasters. For example, consider the billions of dollars in damage from our CA wildfires alone, and the lives lost.
In Clean Power Alliance (the CCA serving Los Angeles and Ventura County), low-income customers in 100% default jurisdictions get the 100% renewable product at no extra cost, they get to participate in the clean energy revolution without incurring a financial burden. This is an innovative environmental and economic justice provision, which could be replicated in other CCAs.
California currently targets 100% clean energy by 2045. Consider this - the 100% default gives us an opportunity to achieve that now, decades ahead of time! We don't have to wait, and according to climate science, no time is too soon. It’ll take much more time, effort and expense for our communities to achieve this progress otherwise.
The optimal time to set the default at 100% is right from the get go, before electricity service begins, when customers are first being enrolled in the CCA. But communities can still request to change their defaults if service has already started. The longer a switch to 100% is delayed, the more emissions that get locked in.
As evidenced by the municipalities that set the default at 100%, there is a political readiness and support across party lines for climate action and renewable energy. For example, in the City of Ventura, all seven council members (three registered Republicans, three Democrats, one Independent) voted in unanimous favor of the 100% renewable default.
The 100% default municipalities are diverse socio-economically, racially, geographically, politically, in population size, etc. Your community can have renewable energy too!
Developing more local renewable energy resources offers greater energy independence and security and economic benefits including good-paying jobs.
There's growing momentum underway for the 100% default, so your community would not be alone in uncharted territory. As of 10/2023, there are at least 38 municipalities, over 3.5 million people, across California with a 100% renewable default. This is an opportunity for your city to demonstrate its leadership and serve as an example for others.
The default plans we select today impact the amount of renewable energy powering us into the future. When entire communities opt for renewable energy, it sends a strong market signal to build more renewables, to supply that increasing demand. Renewable energy is available and affordable, we just need to start choosing it!
Simply with this one city council or board of supervisors vote, emissions from electricity are virtually eliminated! Boom, just like that. The 100% default is one of the most significant, cost-effective, and immediate ways to cut emissions and respond to the climate crisis.
100% RENEWABLE DEFAULT CITIES
CLEAN POWER ALLIANCE
Agoura Hills (pop. 20,472)
Alhambra (pop. 81,211)
Beverly Hills (34,186)
Calabasas (pop. 23,988)
Camarillo (pop. 68,122)
Culver City (pop. 39,383)
Hawthorne (pop. 87,107)
Hermosa Beach (pop. 19,314)
Los Angeles County Unincorporated (pop. 1,022,167)
Malibu (pop. 12,877)
Manhattan Beach (pop. 35,532)
Monrovia (pop. 37,500)
Ojai (pop. 7,582)
Oxnard (pop. 210,037)
Redondo Beach (pop. 67,423)
Rolling Hills Estates (pop. 8,226)
Santa Monica (pop. 92,306)
Santa Paula (pop. 30,759)
Sierra Madre (pop. 10,917)
South Pasadena (pop. 25,888)
Thousand Oaks (pop. 128,995)
Ventura (pop. 110,790)
Ventura County Unincorporated (pop. 97,865)
West Hollywood (pop. 37,080)
EAST BAY COMMUNITY ENERGY
Albany (pop. 19,804)
Berkeley (pop. 121,485)
Dublin (pop. 61,240)
Emeryville (pop. 11,899)
Hayward (pop. 159,293)
Piedmont* (pop. 11,308)
Pleasanton (pop. 81,717)
San Leandro (pop. 90,025)
Cities in EBCE (except Piedmont) have thus far chosen to exclude low income customers from the 100% default.
* Default applies to residential accounts, not commercial accounts
ORANGE COUNTY POWER AUTHORITY
Buena Park (pop. 82,489)
Huntington Beach (pop. 200,259)
PENINSULA CLEAN ENERGY
Portola Valley (pop. 4,611)
SAN DIEGO COMMUNITY POWER
Encinitas (pop. 62,627)