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 - hundreds of thousands 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 in October 2018, 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.
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.
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 will opt down, most will 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.
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% and encourage a dramatic reduction in polluting emissions?
While the 100% renewable product might currently have a slightly higher rate than the IOU's base product, 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.
California currently targets 100% clean energy by 2045. Consider this - the 100% default gives us an opportunity to achieve that goal 25 years ahead of schedule! Simply by setting the default at 100% in 2020, our communities will be powered by close to 100% renewable, a huge improvement from the roughly 35% renewable mix that is standard today. This is an easy and immediate way to make a substantial leap forward. It’ll take much more time, effort and expense for our communities to get there otherwise.
The optimal time to set the default at 100% is right from the get go, before electricity service begins. But communities can still request to change their defaults if service has already started.
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 municipalities which have selected the 100% default are diverse socio-economically, racially, geographically, politically, in population size, etc. Your community can have renewable energy too!
The default plans we select today impact the amount of renewable energy powering us into the future.
Renewable energy is available and affordable, we just need to start choosing it!
The best way you can contribute is to reach out to your city council or county supervisors and tell them that you want the Clean Power Alliance 100% renewable energy default. The easiest way to do this is to send an email, but it makes more of an impact to show up in person at a meeting!
100% RENEWABLE DEFAULT CITIES
CLEAN POWER ALLIANCE
Agoura Hills (pop. 20,472)
Culver City (pop. 39,383)
Malibu (pop. 12,877)
Manhattan Beach (pop. 35,532)
Ojai (pop. 7,582)
Oxnard (pop. 210,037)
Rolling Hills Estates* (pop. 8,226)
Santa Monica (pop. 92,306)
Sierra Madrem (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)
PENINSULA CLEAN ENERGY
Portola Valley (pop. 4,611)
EAST BAY COMMUNITY ENERGY
Piedmont* (pop. 11,308)
* Default applies to residential accounts, not commercial accounts