11 Jun PRESS RELEASE: Western Community Energy Files for Deregistration, Customers to Return to Southern California Edison Service
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 11, 2021
RIVERSIDE, California – On Wednesday, the Western Community Energy (WCE) Board of Directors unanimously approved a resolution to file a “Notice of Deregistration” with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). As a result, WCE customers will be transferred back to Southern California Edison (SCE) for their electric service over a two-week transition period.
The decision to deregister was taken in consultation with the PUC and SCE as it became apparent that WCE would not have sufficient financial resources to continue to purchase power for its customers going into July. In particular, WCE was impacted by the decision of energy generators to terminate contracts to provide electricity going into the summer months. Without this energy, WCE was forced to purchase energy at market prices that fluctuate daily and are currently high due to anticipated demand as temperatures swell over 100 degrees in the next few weeks.
During the deregistration process, WCE will continue to provide power to its customers and will be working collaboratively with SCE and WCE to ensure a smooth transition for customers to SCE service. Service to residential and commercial customers will not be disrupted and customers will return to SCE at the standard bundled rates paid by regular SCE customers.
“The deregistration process is the best solution that ensures little to no impact to WCE customers, which is the top priority of WCE and SCE,” said Todd Rigby, Chairperson of WCE. “We are working closely with SCE on an orderly and efficient transfer, and both organizations are committed to making certain that there will be minimal impacts and no service disruptions to customers.”
Under existing rules approved by the CPUC, SCE has the right to seek recovery from WCE for reentry fees to cover SCE’s increased administrative, energy and other costs resulting from the return of customers from WCE. If WCE does not pay timely the re-entry fees in full or part, SCE will have the right to seek recovery of any unpaid re-entry fees from WCE’s customers once they are returned to SCE’s generation service. The actual amount of this fee is not known and WCE will be working with SCE to find ways to mitigate SCE’s additional costs. WCE is also actively working to secure assistance from the State of California to minimize any additional costs that might be passed on to returning WCE customers. Once additional information regarding the re-entry fee is available, WCE will work with SCE to share that information with the former customers of WCE.
WCE customers should continue to pay their power bills as they normally would, which have always been processed through SCE.
WCE customers are expected to be transferred in the coming weeks and will receive a written notice from SCE when their account has been transferred back to SCE. Some customers may be transferred mid-billing cycle for SCE and as a result may receive a smaller second bill covering a shorter period of the month if that situation occurs.
WCE and SCE will be communicating regularly with customers during this process and updates will be available at https://westerncommunityenergy.com. WCE and SCE call centers will also be available to answer any customer questions.
The decision to deregister follows WCE declaration late last month of a fiscal emergency and its subsequent Chapter 9 Bankruptcy. Several external contributing factors impacted WCE’s financial situation following its launch at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, from unprecedented heat events that caused spikes in energy costs to impacts from the public health crisis.
About Western Community Energy
Western Community Energy (WCE) is a joint powers authority, consisting of the Cities of Eastvale, Hemet, Jurupa Valley, Norco, Perris, and Wildomar, and was formed for the purpose of developing a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) Program that purchases energy on behalf of its residents and businesses to offer a cost competitive alternative to electricity rates. A CCA provides the community choices when it comes to energy mixes and programs, while providing local control over rate setting. For more information, please visit https://westerncommunityenergy.com.
Work to form WCE began in 2016, with the development of a Feasibility Study that examined the viability of moving forward with a CCA by looking at the energy markets and the costs associated with purchasing power on behalf of its customers. As a result of the findings that a CCA would be feasible, WCE was formed as a new program.
WCE aims to provide its customers:
- A cleaner, more efficient energy supply
- Consumer choice, consumer protection, and local control over rate setting and programs
- Local jobs creation and local power resiliency
- Opportunities to develop future complementary energy programs such as net energy metering, energy efficiency retrofits, distributed rooftop and community solar, electric vehicle incentives and demand response technologies
- New renewable power development
About Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) Programs
A CCA is a model that allows communities to aggregate its power and then purchase to meet the needs of its community, offering an alternative choice in the market—often the only alternative to sourcing power from the investor owned utility (IOU). CCAs can provide the communities they serve with competitively priced, clean energy choices while reinvesting revenues into projects and programs that support the local economy.