Power lines rise above homes in the Talmadge neighborhood. / Photo by Sam Hodgson

San Diego and other cities in the county are on the verge of creating a new government entity that would be in charge of buying and selling power to the region’s homes and businesses.

The plan, which goes by the wonky and not-so-intuitive name “community choice aggregation,” has been sold by its supporters in a handful of different ways.

Its primary promise is to provide cleaner and cheaper energy than SDG&E, the private utility that currently handles the responsibility.

But plenty of supporters, especially conservatives and business types, have also used free market language to sell it. The concept would offer consumers a “choice” of where they get their energy, introducing competition to a market that’s currently the purview of a monopoly.

But as CCAs have grown in popularity, with 19 formed or on the way in California, the utility companies are increasingly looking to get out of the business of buying and selling energy altogether, ceding the ground to the new public agencies to deal with an industry in flux.

That means supporters – including San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer – who’ve argued for them on the basis of competition might be losing one of their main selling points, as Ry Rivard reports.

No matter, say the supporters. The “choice” term has always been referred to communities having the ability to choose what kind of energy they use, too. And some are happier having the field to themselves, even if they lost one of a handful of arguments used to sell the public on an idea that seemed far fetched just a few years ago.

How Some Schools Are Improving

In 2008, Sherman Heights Elementary had some of the lowest test scores in the San Diego Unified School District. Today, it is one of the highest-performing schools in the community thanks in part to an ambitious dual-language immersion program.

In this year’s Parent’s Guide to Public Schools, we decided to highlight several schools and districts that have changed their stories. Where once parents may have avoided them, now these schools often have long wait lists.

Kayla Jimenez and Scott Lewis offer several examples of schools trying different approaches to learning.

SDSU Awards Contract for Mission Valley Stadium Work

San Diego State University has awarded a $250 million contract to one of the nation’s top construction firms to build its Mission Valley stadium, the Union-Tribune reported. Voters gave the city the right to negotiate the sale of 132 acres to the university in November.

Clark Construction Group, which also built Petco Park, won the stadium contract through the competitive bidding process, according to university officials.

But how those officials intend to pay for the development of the site without raising student tuition or fees is still an open question. The U-T quoted a couple skeptical economists. We’re suing to get our hands on the documents that might explain.

New Water Authority Chief Named

The Board of Directors of the San Diego County Water Authority announced out of closed session that they had made Deputy General Manager Sandy Kerl the acting general manager of the agency. She begins in that role March 1.

Current General Manager Maureen Stapleton announced her retirement recently. But she won’t retire right away. She will use almost a year and a half of accrued vacation to stay on the books until July 2020, when she will officially retire. Stapleton got a round of kudos from her counterparts.

San Diego Attorney Elected to Help GOP Turn the Tide

Randy Berholtz, a San Diego attorney, was elected secretary of the California Republican Party. For the first time in state GOP history, a Latina will serve as chair. Delegates also chose a Taiwanese immigrant as vice chair and an openly gay man as treasurer — an apparent attempt to rebrand the party’s image after the disastrous midterm elections.

There are fewer Republicans in San Diego County today than Democrats or independents. In November, prominent conservative donors and leaders met to discuss whether they could continue to rely on the Republican Party to drive their agenda.

10News reports that Berholtz and others intend to turn the tide by focusing on “family, personal initiative and good government.” He said the party will be looking to grassroots activists to help recruit candidates rather than from the top.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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