Frequently Asked Questions
Desert Community Energy, or DCE, offers ratepayers a choice in electricity providers and in the type of electricity they use. DCE was formed by the cities of Palm Springs, Palm Desert and Cathedral City and is a community choice aggregator (CCA) as certified by the California Public Utilities Commission. Its purpose is to provide residents and businesses with cleaner, competitively priced electricity while retaining local control, reinvesting revenues and encouraging local job creation, and helping participating cities meet their climate action goals.
Desert Community Energy’s premium product, Carbon Free, is 50% renewable and 100% carbon-free. Our standard product, Desert Saver, is 35% renewable, and will be offered at competitive rates with Southern California Edison’s standard service.
Desert Community Energy began service in Palm Springs in April 2020. Palm Desert is considering launching service in 2021.
RATES & BILLING
The DCE Board of Directors will set electric generation rates for its customers after they are carefully developed, discussed, evaluated and approved at public meetings. The DCE Board will adjust rates once per year at an open public meeting—less frequently than most IOUs—offering a greater measure of rate stability compared to IOUs. Because publicly managed CCAs are not-for-profit agencies, they are able to maintain lower costs because they don’t pay shareholder dividends, investor returns, high corporate salaries or income taxes like commercial services or investor-owned utilities. To help customers with an easy rate comparison, DCE plans to follow the rate classes used by Southern California Edison.
ENROLL / OPT OUT
Community Choice Aggregation programs are authorized by California Assembly Bill 117, which requires automatic customer enrollment with an option for customers to opt out. This alleviates a burdensome enrollment process for all customers in the CCA’s service area. Customers have a choice to return to Southern California Edison’s bundled service, if they prefer, with a single phone call or click online. The choice is yours.
SOLAR / NEM
DCE customers with solar panels can participate in our Net Energy Metering (NEM) program, which offers the same rates for your excess energy production as SCE for net surplus generation. Intra-month generation is valued at DCE’s applicable rate. If you are already a NEM customer with SCE, you don’t have to do anything. Your account will automatically be enrolled in DCE in May 2020. Credits for surplus electricity earned under SCE’s NEM program prior to May 2020 will be trued up and paid by SCE following enrollment into DCE’s NEM program.
As part of DCE’s NEM program, your system’s energy production will be monitored monthly. If you produce excess energy, you will receive a credit on your bill that can be applied to charges in future months. If you use more energy than your system produces in a given month, you will be charged for the energy you draw from the grid. In Palm Springs, you also have the option of our Carbon Free plan to receive 100% carbon-neutral electricity and further reduce your carbon footprint.
DCE is governed by a Joint Powers Association (JPA) with a Board of Directors comprised of one local elected representative from each of the participating city councils. The Board schedules regular meetings that are open to the public, ensuring transparency and encouraging community involvement. Formation of a CCA through a JPA does not require contributions from participating member agencies. The assets and liabilities of the CCA program remain separate from those of the participating agencies’ general fund. DCE will be administered by a small staff and consultants with relevant energy and utility experience.