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San Diego green bureaucracy prepares to ramp up executive spending

"At the outset..approximately 15-20 staff members...growing to 40"

Kevin Faulconer’s climate initiative launch
Kevin Faulconer’s climate initiative launch

As local utility rates soared, the rush to dump San Diego Gas & Electric as the area's sole energy distributor grew into a political frenzy, capped by the October 2018 acquiescence of San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, whose public career has long benefited from financial support from SDG&E and parent Sempra Energy.

Chart showing executives to be hired

"San Diego can become a greener city, while at the same time lowering costs for our ratepayers," said the self-styled Republican moderate announcing his blessing for a government-run alternative power utility. "The bottom line is that we are creating a fair and open marketplace."

But does sticker shock await those entrusting their hopes for rate relief to so-called community choice aggregation, requiring the creation of yet another government agency, complete with high-end staffers and well-paid consultants?

So say skeptics, pointing to the benighted history of similar governmental entities including the San Diego Association of Governments and Civic San Diego morphing into political footballs and unaccountable black holes of public spending.

A December 9 staff report to the board of the newly constituted San Diego Community Power – a so-called Joint Powers Authority governed by five local politicos, including San Diego city councilwomen Monica Montgomery – reveals plans to ramp up staff and spending in the coming year quickly.

As outlined in an organization chart presented with the plan, a raft of executives, including a chief executive officer, chief operating officer, and chief financial officer, along with general counsel, will be necessary to run the show.

"At the outset, it is assumed that [San Diego Community Power] will hire approximately 15-20 staff members," says a footnote, "growing to [approximately] 40 once key functions are brought in-house."

The document adds that "most of the functions will be staffed/supported by external vendors until [San Diego Community Power] hires its own staff and transitions into full operations."

Finding a CEO will cost at least $25,000 for a corporate head-hunter, the report continues, with job posting and open recruitment to begin in February, says an accompanying timeline.

The new arrangements will "allow better reflections of community interests and values than can be achieved through an investor-owned utility," says a business plan for the venture released in June by the city. The agency "will be committed to providing opportunities for citizens to provide input into its programs and policies," the study promised.

But based on the track record of similar agencies around the state, the price could be steep. "Pre-launch funding requirements," according to the city's business plan, ranged from between $2 million to $5 million in Marin County to $10 million to $12 million in San Mateo County.

In the case of the latter, the agency has "obtained a $12 million loan with Barclay and almost $9 million with the county of San Mateo for start-up costs and collateral."

In addition to San Diego councilmember Montgomery, the San Diego agency's board includes Chula Vista councilman Steve Padilla; La Mesa vice mayor Bill Baber; Encinitas councilman Joe Mosca; and Imperial Beach councilman Mark West.

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Kevin Faulconer’s climate initiative launch
Kevin Faulconer’s climate initiative launch

As local utility rates soared, the rush to dump San Diego Gas & Electric as the area's sole energy distributor grew into a political frenzy, capped by the October 2018 acquiescence of San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, whose public career has long benefited from financial support from SDG&E and parent Sempra Energy.

Chart showing executives to be hired

"San Diego can become a greener city, while at the same time lowering costs for our ratepayers," said the self-styled Republican moderate announcing his blessing for a government-run alternative power utility. "The bottom line is that we are creating a fair and open marketplace."

But does sticker shock await those entrusting their hopes for rate relief to so-called community choice aggregation, requiring the creation of yet another government agency, complete with high-end staffers and well-paid consultants?

So say skeptics, pointing to the benighted history of similar governmental entities including the San Diego Association of Governments and Civic San Diego morphing into political footballs and unaccountable black holes of public spending.

A December 9 staff report to the board of the newly constituted San Diego Community Power – a so-called Joint Powers Authority governed by five local politicos, including San Diego city councilwomen Monica Montgomery – reveals plans to ramp up staff and spending in the coming year quickly.

As outlined in an organization chart presented with the plan, a raft of executives, including a chief executive officer, chief operating officer, and chief financial officer, along with general counsel, will be necessary to run the show.

"At the outset, it is assumed that [San Diego Community Power] will hire approximately 15-20 staff members," says a footnote, "growing to [approximately] 40 once key functions are brought in-house."

The document adds that "most of the functions will be staffed/supported by external vendors until [San Diego Community Power] hires its own staff and transitions into full operations."

Finding a CEO will cost at least $25,000 for a corporate head-hunter, the report continues, with job posting and open recruitment to begin in February, says an accompanying timeline.

The new arrangements will "allow better reflections of community interests and values than can be achieved through an investor-owned utility," says a business plan for the venture released in June by the city. The agency "will be committed to providing opportunities for citizens to provide input into its programs and policies," the study promised.

But based on the track record of similar agencies around the state, the price could be steep. "Pre-launch funding requirements," according to the city's business plan, ranged from between $2 million to $5 million in Marin County to $10 million to $12 million in San Mateo County.

In the case of the latter, the agency has "obtained a $12 million loan with Barclay and almost $9 million with the county of San Mateo for start-up costs and collateral."

In addition to San Diego councilmember Montgomery, the San Diego agency's board includes Chula Vista councilman Steve Padilla; La Mesa vice mayor Bill Baber; Encinitas councilman Joe Mosca; and Imperial Beach councilman Mark West.

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Whatever the savings, if any, will be eaten up by overpaid political hacks appointed to lofty do nothing positions.

Dec. 11, 2019

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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