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T he C oast News

JUNE 8, 2018

Opinion & Editorial

Views expressed in Opinion & Editorial do not reflect the views of The Coast News

Endorsement ‘trumps’ big money, gets Cox into runoff

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Community choice programs aren’t delivering on clean energy By Jerry Sanders

Eighteen years ago, California was faced with rolling blackouts and a major energy crisis. It may not seem like it, but another energy crisis is brewing – this one caused by cities getting in the business of buying and selling electricity. It was a lack of oversight and poor deregulation that led to those blackouts, when bad actors such as Enron saw an opportunity to game the system, manipulate energy markets and ultimately crash power grids. Now, government-run energy programs – also known as Community Choice Aggregation – are unraveling the centralized planning and service California needs to keep the lights on. As the former mayor of San Diego, I can see why CCAs are attractive to some local lawmakers since they’re billed as cheaper and greener alternatives. But they aren’t delivering on their promises and it’s not a program I would have introduced to taxpayers. As the former mayor of San Diego, I can see why CCAs are attractive to some local lawmakers since they’re billed as cheaper and greener alternatives. But they aren’t delivering on their promises and it’s not a program I would have introduced to taxpayers.

These programs produce very little new renewable energy, instead buying from existing sources, including out-of-state wind and solar farms. They take credit for improving our environment but they’re not actually reducing carbon emissions. For example, Marin Clean Energy, California’s first CCA, was launched eight years ago and is held up as a model. Yet it has not delivered more than 10 percent of its power from new clean energy sources in any year. Government-controlled energy might one day deliver the benefits it promises, but the current market was not designed to support CCAs. Their customers can always return to utility companies. This risk, combined with a lack of credit, means that CCAs are reluctant to purchase long-term contracts for renewable energy, or build new facilities. While utility companies buy nearly all their renewable energy under long-term contracts that lead to new renewable generation development, this has all but stopped because of the uncertainty caused by CCAs. Also, some labor leaders strongly oppose CCAs because they are not creating more jobs. Worse, utility customers in neighboring cities are forced to pay higher en-

ergy bills to subsidize them. So why is California seeing an acceleration of these programs, and why is San Diego even considering forming what would be one of the largest CCAs? Cities are under pressure to comply with their own Climate Action Plans, even though all existing CCAs fall well short of achieving the goal: 100 percent clean energy use. The only way for energy providers to meaningfully reduce emissions is to build more wind, solar, and other green energy sources. CCAs aren’t achieving that, but they do expose cities to significant risks. In San Diego, a city study found that a CCA could require annual revenues of as much as $961 million. Clearly, there are many reasons to be skeptical of government-controlled energy. Local leaders should focus on building more housing near job centers, conserving water and increasing energy efficiency through numerous strategies that do not expose cities and their residents to financial risks or power outages. Jerry Sanders, former mayor of San Diego, is president & CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. Email him at jerry@sdchamber.org.

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More needed to stem rise of vaping among young people I live in Escondido, go to high school, and am concerned about the latest trend I see increasing all over campuses in Escondido and all over our county. In 2016, the age to purchase any tobacco product was changed to 21. E-cigarettes and vapes are considered tobacco products under new law. While the law exists, I see a growing use of e-cigarettes among my classmates who are in high school. The majority of teens who get their hands on tobacco products turn out to be lifelong users. Many

‘smoke shops’ currently offer e-cigarette and e-juices while the FDA continues to postpone their ingredient listing compliance deadline. This leaves users uncertain on what they are putting into their bodies. Research shows that nicotine, carcinogens and even cannabis products can be found in flavored vape juice. These products are designed and promoted to attract youth and young adults and trick us into being lifelong users. A proven solution to prevent youth from getting products is a local Tobacco Retail Licensing

hings began looking desperate in early May for Antonio Villaraigosa’s campaign to become the next governor of California, as one poll after another showed Republican John Cox overtaking him for the second slot on the November ballot, to run against current Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. One of those surveys put his support as low as 9 percent, which would have classed him as a second-tier candidate, quite a blow to the ego of any former mayor Los Angeles. This was quite a change for Villaraigosa, who in a March interview displayed insouciant confidence that he would win the six-way race for a spot opposite Newsom, who led every public opinion poll in the primary race and easily won the most votes. At that time, Newsom led Villaraigosa in fund-raising by more than $12 million, while Cox had just plunked 3 million of his own dollars into his campaign. Shortly after, Cox’s advertising propelled him to a narrow edge over Villaraigosa. Yet, Villaraigosa was exuberant about his chances, several times repeating that “I am ascendant!” By then, he likely knew that several charter school backers were about to fund an independent expenditure committee backing him to the tune of about $15 million. But then along came Donald Trump. The president may be the single least popular political figure in California, where he spends a little time as possible, but his influence among the 25 percent of the state’s voters who register Republican is enormous. From the moment Trump pronounced Cox the man to “make Cali-

policy. These policies help ensure that retailers don’t sell products like vapes to minors. I’m currently the ViceChair for the Coalition for Drug Free Escondido. The goals of the Coalition are to establish and strengthen community collaboration in support of community efforts to prevent youth substance use and help the next generation to be the smokefree. Arturo Velasco is an Escondido resident and Vice-Chair of Coalition for Drug Free Escondido.

california focus thomas d. elias fornia great again,” Cox moved well ahead of his lone significant GOP rival, Orange County Assemblyman Travis Allen, who had all along presented himself as a kind of surrogate Trump. At the same time, Newsom began saturating the state with television ads presenting Cox as a virtual Trump clone. Newsom wanted to pick his fall opponent and he has. For Villaraigosa never really had a chance at second place once counting of votes began. Never mind that he and his supporters spent at least twice as much money as Cox, who is now likely to draw much more support from other Republicans. Newsom’s reasoning: If he got Cox as an opponent, he would likely attract November support from virtually everyone who voted in the primary for him, Villaraigosa, state Treasurer John Chiang and former state schools Supt. Delaine Eastin (a total of more than 55 percent of all votes cast). But if Villaraigosa (or any other Democrat) were his fall foe, those votes could splinter unpredictably. For Newsom, the easiest path to the governor’s chair appeared to be getting a Republican opponent. His ads attacked Cox as a Trumpist after the President’s endorsement essentially doomed Allen’s effort. Newsom is well aware that no Republican not named Schwarzenegger has won a California statewide election in

almost two decades. The donations to Villaraigosa from big pro-charter school contributors like developer Eli Broad and Netflix founder Reed Hastings were in a way a reward for Villaraigosa’s help getting that movement started while he was state Assembly speaker in the 1990s. Meanwhile, Newsom has long had strong support from the California Teachers Association., the union which often opposes expansion of charters and the companies that run them. The primary outcome, with a first-place Newsom finish, may take the November election focus away from the run for governor, where Newsom and Cox will differ over almost everything. But the Democrats’ vast voter registration advantage and Trump’s unpopularity with the full electorate removes most doubt about an eventual Newsom win. That could place a bright spotlight on the fall race for the Senate between veteran U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and fellow Democrat Kevin de Leon, the more extremely liberal former president of the state Senate. Propositions will also deserve major attention, covering subjects from gasoline taxes to the liability of paint makers for damage done by lead in their past products to an attempt to divide California into three states. One thing for sure: A single personality – Donald Trump – ended up trumping big money and dominating a primary election scene where he wasn’t even a candidate. Email Thomas Elias at tdelias@aol.com. For more Elias columns, visit www.californiafocus.net

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