Government / Politics

San Juan Bautista joins JPA for power options

The city will join with other communities to offer an alternative to PG&E

The San Juan Bautista City Council approved an ordinance authorizing the implementation of a Community Choice Aggregation Program, formalizing the city's participation in Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP), allowing communities to choose a clean energy source at a competitive rate to PG&E. Along with the city of Hollister, San Juan Bautista is the 11th shared seat on a governance committee compromised of 21 local government entities in San Benito, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.

Presented to the council in November 2016, the MBCP, advocates say, enables governments to procure and/or develop power on behalf of residents and businesses promoting economic vitality. The program also offers customers a choice of where they get their energy from. 

City Manager Roger Grimsley introduced the agenda item with updates saying, “Two cities of San Benito County will share that seat. That seat is divided between the city of Hollister and the city of San Juan Bautista.”

While options were discussed on how the seat would be shared with the city of Hollister, Grimsley said, “The final option is to go 50/50. We would have an equal share in the seat. Our share would be $159,000 letter of credit. The letter of credit is submitted to the bank that's going to upfront the startup funds for this group and then once it gets going the letter of credit will dissolve and then it’ll be funded by the Joint Powers Agreement (JPA).”

He added, “the recommendation from the Joint Powers Agreement is the seat should be two years because the first year is getting acclimated and up to speed with the nomenclature and the acronyms and the working process.”

Mayor Chris Martorana asked Monterey Bay Regional Climate Action Compact co-chair and Emerging Ecologies Director/Principal, Brennan Jensen, how far along the 21 jurisdictions were in committing to MBCP.

Jensen said, “You’re in the middle. You’re one of the early folks to have passed your resolution early on and this is done in two different parts. At this point 17 out the 21 jurisdictions have at least the first stage, the adoption and resolution and the first reading. All 21 jurisdictions have agendized the item.”

Martorana asked, “this seat 11 that we would share potentially with the city of Hollister, who gets the seat first, how often do they have the seat, how is that decided?”

Jensen responded, “The term is two years, so that’s included in the JPA agreement. In terms of who gets the seat, that’s actually up to you and your normal process. Generally, there’s already established processes in which cities and counties elect representatives to various JPA’s. Some folks have flipped a coin, other folks have a committee that looks at these things and makes a recommendation.”

Grimsley said San Juan officials would have to sit down with the City of Hollister to decide who would be first to take the seat.

Councilman Jim West that even though we was in support of the program he had some concerns. “I have a problem. We talked about low risk; when this first came to this council our letter of credit was $8,000. Now we’re at $160,000. As a percentage to the voters of this city that is a tremendous risk … I just think that it’s a disproportional burden on the tax payers of San Juan Bautista,” he said.

West asked what the cost would be if the city were to buy in at a later time.

Jensen said that although the cost could not be determined now, the cost in other areas where the buy-in option has been provided, has ranged from $50,000 to $250,000 per jurisdiction. She added that by not being at the table early on, the city would not have an influence of the policies being made. 

Councilman John Freeman said he was fully committed to the program and advocated for San Juan Bautista to take the seat first, reminding fellow council members that they had adopted a green city ordinance and Hollister did not. “This a very, very, very low-risk operation. I’m going to tell you, one lawsuit against the city by anything happening would far exceed this small amount. Since we do not have to pay out money, we only have to promise a letter of credit, I am fully in favor of it,” he said.

City Manager search

In other council news, council members created an ad hoc committee, made up of Martorana and Freeman, to develop a process and identify a city manager candidate to replace the current city manager.

While no date was given for Grimsley’s impending retirement, the council said the process could take up to six months. 



Laura Romero

Laura Romero has been a reporter and handled marketing/social media for BenitoLink. She has covered education and city government. Formerly, she worked as an assistant account executive at Pembroke PR in San Francisco, where she assisted with press outreach, event coordination, and social media planning. With her PR skills, she has helped to implement social media strategies and develop online giving campaigns for BenitoLink. Laura continues to contribute to BenitoLink on a freelance basis.