About ten years ago, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty was sitting at a board meeting for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District when he first heard the concept of community choice aggregation. Marin Clean Energy was getting ready to launch, helped along by a planning grant from BAAQMD.
“The thought of sustainable energy at a reduced price was attractive to me,” he says now. “So I talked to my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors about their interest in setting up a CCA, and they were willing to go along with it. They were all very excited about seeing something like this happen.”
Alameda County served as the “angel investor” for EBCE, funding the planning necessary to get it off the ground. County staffers Bruce Jensen and Chris Bazar did most of the leg work. This helped get the buy in of potential member cities. “They saw how great a CCA could be and it wasn’t going to cost them to be at the table,” he says.
“I live with the motto go big or go home,” he says. “I wanted to have the entire county move forward on CCA.”
Haggerty was the right person for the job of recruiting so many partners. He is a consummate organizer and joiner, having served on a whopping 47 boards and commissions over the years. That has included stints as the chair of the board of BAAQMD, chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), and as President of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).
He has spent 22 years on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, currently serving his sixth elected four-year term. His district includes the cities of Livermore, Dublin, and most of Fremont, plus unincorporated areas of East Alameda County.
He has had a strong focus on transportation issues, and was instrumental in extending BART to Warm Springs, among many other things. But he says the creation of EBCE is “one of my greatest accomplishments,” especially for the climate change and public health benefits.
“I think back to when I was a kid in Fremont, the air quality was horrible,” he recalls. “We’ve done a lot to clean the air but there is still a lot to do. The climate is changing, we see it everyday in wildfires and storms. We have to react to this.”
But he sees climate change as an opportunity as well.
“As we look at solar and wind and other ways to generate energy, there is a whole new economy there,” he says. “Through our Local Development Business Plan we can train the next generation of electrical workers, people who can be involved in the sustainable energy economy.”
“We have to be careful, because our core mission is sustainable power at a lower price,” he adds. “But we can reinvest in the community and bring a whole new economy to the Bay Area.”
Right now Haggerty is most concerned about a seamless launch of service to residential customers, and making sure customers accept and trust EBCE.
He also worries about the risk of unhelpful policies from the state.
“I’ve become frustrated about the grip that PG&E and other utilities have on the legislature. I hope moving forward that legislators look for ways to help CCAs thrive and not hold them back.”
Haggerty points to the fact that CCAs reflect their communities and voters, and provide citizens with a whole new level of say about their energy future.
“Community energy has brought the decision to the local level,” he says. “You can stop the mayor in your market and say ‘when are you going to buy more renewable energy?’ It’s an amazing change.They never had access to the people making decisions before.”
“This is the wave of the future, this is California,” he says. “We can show the nation how to cut carbon and continue to grow the economy.”
“Everything I’ve done in 22 years in office is to try to make Alameda County a better place. When I talk to high school kids in their classes I tell them I don’t worry about them, but about their children’s children. I have kids and they will have my grandkids. I want to leave this world in a shape so they can have the great life that I enjoyed.”