City, energy firms talking

By: Charles F. Bostwick | September 30, 2014

LANCASTER – City officials are negotiating with energy firms Constellation/Exelon Generation Company and Direct Energy as they move forward with plans to supply electricity to Lancaster homes and businesses.

Either or both firms could be chosen, or city officials could pick another company, to provide power – from wind, solar and conventional power plants – that the city would resell as it begins supply ing electricity on a phased schedule starting next year and continuing into 2016.

“So far we’re on schedule,” Deputy City Manager Jason Caudle said.

As Lancaster goes through the process to become a “community choice aggregator,” the firms were identified in the revised implementation plan approved by the City Council last week for submission to the California Public Utilities Commission.

City officials narrowed their list to those two firms because they wanted to deal with firms that have experience working with Southern California Edison and with the California Independent Systems Operator.

Constellation/Exelon supplies electricity to Sonoma County’s community choice aggregation agency, which began operation in May, and Direct Energy sells electricity to businesses and other customers around California, Caudle said.

The City Council is likely to make a choice in January, he said. However, he noted, the city also could choose to buy electricity through both, or could choose an entirely different company.

Electricity prices are likely to be set in February by the council, Caudle said.

Based in Chicago, Exelon owns nuclear and conventional power plants, as well as wind and solar facilities that include the 2,100-acre, 230-megawatt Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One on Avenue D at 170th Street West. Its Baltimore-based Constellation business unit provides energy products and services to approximately 100,000 business and public sector customers and more than one million residential customers. Constellation owns the solar panels installed this year at the Palmdale Civic Center, DryTown Water Park and Marie Kerr Park.

Owned by a British firm called Centrica, Direct Energy has more than 6 million residential, commercial and government customers in the United States and Canada.

Lancaster officials say they expect to be able to offer electric rates that will meet or beat Southern California Edison’s prices.

As envisioned now, the new power arrangement would first be used for city buildings, parks and other facilities starting in early 2015, then Lancaster business, and then residences by May or November 2016. There are 5,500 commercial and industrial electric customers and 48,865 residential customers.