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 jobs, and helping participating cities to meet their climate action goals.
Desert Community Energy’s standard product, Desert Saver, to which all customers will automatically be transitioned, is 35% renewable and 50% carbon-free, and will cost 3% less than Southern California Edison’s standard service. Our premium product, Carbon Free, is 35% renewable and 100% carbon-free and costs the same as SCE’s premium service—which is only 32% renewable and 44% carbon-free.
The goal of DCE is to provide the cleanest electricity at the lowest cost to you, while retaining local control and reinvesting in the economic health of our communities. DCE initially planned to launch in August 2018. But in mid-July, natural gas prices spiked in Southern California, changing energy market conditions. And Southern California Edison has predicted a decrease in its rates for 2019. Under these conditions, the DCE Board could not guarantee lower rates than Southern California Edison, so the launch date was delayed.
DCE will be keeping a close eye on market prices and Edison’s actual rates to determine when best to launch the program to maximize benefits to our customers and offer you a choice in electricity providers.
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. To date, existing CCAs in California offer competitive electric generation rates, currently ranging from 2%-6% lower than investor-owned utility (IOU) rates, depending on the customer class and service option each customer chooses. The DCE Board will adjust 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 don’t pay shareholder dividends, investor returns, high corporate salaries or income taxes like commercial services or investor-owned utilities, all of which lowers costs even further. Initial studies estimate that a CCA program could save ratepayers millions of dollars over the next 20 years.
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 up to you.
SOLAR / NEM
DCE customers with solar panels can participate in our Net Energy Metering (NEM) program, which offers you the same rates for your excess energy production as SCE. If you are already a net energy metering customer with SCE, you don’t have to do anything. Your account will be automatically enrolled in Desert Community Energy’s Net Energy Metering program. But when you need to purchase electricity, you’ll pay 3% less with DCE.
As part of DCE’s NEM program, your system’s energy production will be monitored on a monthly basis. If you produce more energy than you consume, 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—at lower rates than you currently pay SCE. Customers won’t pay any charges due until the end of the 12-month relevant period allowing you to net out any generation charges. You also have the option of Opting Up to our Carbon Free service to receive 100% carbon-neutral electricity for the same price you currently pay SCE.
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 Joint Powers Authority 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 with relevant energy and utility experience.