Buena Park city councilors unanimously voiced support during a study session on June 6 to continue the city’s membership with the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA), despite other member agencies dropping out like Huntington Beach in May and the County of Orange in December.
At the meeting, Joe Mosca, the green energy agency’s newly-selected interim CEO who began his role earlier this month, told councilors he was hopeful for the future of OCPA.
“We are hitting all our goals, including most importantly, our renewable energy goals. … We’re also financially solid,” he said during the meeting.
Mosca said staff from the agency will be presenting its fiscal year budget for 2023-2024 at its board meeting June 21, and that it will show OCPA is “meeting all of our responsibilities.”
According to Mosca, the agency has already put $40 million into its reserves after operating for less than a year.
Also, a strategic planning session for the OCPA is planned for June 16 at the advice of Buena Park Councilman José Trinidad Castañeda—who also sits on OCPA’s board—to discuss the agency’s mission, goals, and direction, according to Mosca.
The power authority—which now services the remaining member cities of Buena Park, Irvine, and Fullerton—was formed in 2020 as a “greener” alternative to Southern California Edison (SCE).
It offers three plans: basic choice at 38 percent renewable energy, smart choice at 69 percent, and 100 percent renewable energy, the most expensive.
Since its inception in November 2020, the OCPA has been criticized for a lack of transparency and inexperienced management.
Several audits of the agency have been issued, including by an Orange County Grand Jury last June, the Orange County Auditor—at the request of Orange County supervisors—in December, and the California State Auditor in February.
Following the audits, the OCPA has implemented most recommendations, according to the board, including recently firing their CEO Brian Probolsky, whose last day was May 31.
Although some have jumped ship, Buena Park councilors said they are hopeful for the future.
“Giving our customers choice is the highest value I believe we can bring to the city and so I remain supportive of our membership in OCPA,” said Mayor Pro Tem Susan Sonne.
Councilman Castañeda said he’s “ecstatic” about the trajectory of the agency and encouraged other Orange County cities to join.
“There’s plenty of opportunity and the sky’s the limit with where we’re going with renewable energy in Orange County,” he said.
But a former Irvine planning commissioner, Harvey Liss, advised against Buena Park’s continued membership during the public comment portion of the meeting, citing concerns over the agency’s ability to compete with SCE.
“SCE has over 100 years of experience with in-house staff purchasing energy contracts. Contrarily, OCPA pays high-salaried staff and pays hefty commissions to outside consultants [who] purchase their energy contracts,” he said.