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Del Rey Oaks Mayor Jerry Edelen says he will create another opportunity for the City Council to consider whether the little city should join the regional energy consortium known as Monterey Bay Community Power.

“I will be placing this issue on our next City Council agenda (April 25) for discussion/possible action,” he said via email, adding that he remains concerned that the city potentially faces liability as great as that faced by the other 20 jurisdictions involved in the project even though most of them are considerably larger than Del Rey Oaks. If that issue can be resolved, he said he can see the city participating.

The Del Rey Oaks council originally agreed to take part in the three-county agency on a unanimous vote but a council majority switched sides March 28 when the issue returned to the council for a mandatory second reading. A petition for a rehearing has been circulating and Councilman Layne Buckley has been rallying others to support another vote on the issue. Unlike many cities, Del Rey Oak’s statutes provide that only the mayor can return a matter to the  council for a rehearing.

The venture has received strong support from area activists, and other cities involved in the venture have agreed to pick up some of Del Rey Oaks’ initial costs of membership.  But City Attorney Christina Trujillo said at the March 28 meeting that the city could face liability equal to that of the three county governments involved – Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito – or the various other cities involved. That caused Edelen and two others to reverse their votes, leading to a 3-2 decision against membership. Of the 21 potential members in the three counties, only Del Rey Oaks and King City have balked though a final decision hasn’t been made in Pacific Grove. The Pacific Grove City Council is scheduled to vote on the matter Wednesday.

Edelen said, “I am scheduling this issue because ultimately it will be a City Council decision. Our collective wisdom is almost always better than the wisdom of any one of us….including me.”

The mayor said he and the city manager have talked to other cities about ways to limit Del Rey Oaks’ exposure. As it stands, the city is in a four-city pool, along with Seaside, Marina and Sand City and, Edelen said, each is equally liable.

“Both my new city manager and I have tried with the other cities,” Edelen said. “We got a partial response from Seaside; however, it doesn’t address any future liabilities. I’ll speak to those during our Council Meeting.

“I believe that eventually we’ll get an agreement agreeing to share liability in our 4 city pool on a per capita basis.  Once that is secured, I believe we’ll have enough support to sign the agreement.”
The consortium will offer residents of the three counties the option of continuing to buy power from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. or through a collective emphasizing reliance on alternative sources such as solar and wind. Operators of similar consortiums elsewhere have had mixed success reducing energy bills but they have managed to significantly reduce their communities’ reliance on fossil fuels. During the second Del Rey Oaks council discussion, Edelen questioned the future of such collectives because he believes oil prices will drop dramatically under the Trump administration.

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  • john moore April 17, 2017, 5:17 pm

    Edelen is clearly the most expert of all mayors about financial matters. He was, I believe, a controller for a large publicly held publishing company and he is very sharp about finances and risk. I disagree with his support of the mayor’s group about CalAm, but except for that error, he is a good manager of risk.
    What I don’t understand is why we create all of these new districts, which create the need for high priced “top” employees; in my day this project, along with the water management district, the pollution control district, et al would have been managed by the county public works department at a substantial savings in administrative, pension and legal costs. The head of each such agency costs about $300,000 per year and legal up to $500,000 per year.
    It is no wonder that government employment is the number one employer for most California cities and counties.

    • Royal Calkins April 17, 2017, 11:15 pm

      Would it be logical to have one county public works department manage a three-county consortium?

      • john moore April 18, 2017, 7:43 am

        Yes, working with the public works dept of each county.

  • Susan Ragsdale-Cronin April 18, 2017, 9:42 am

    I’m a little confused… when I was at the second reading, the new city manager announced that he had successfully reduced DRO’s potential liability from 75,000.00 to 25,000.00 with Seaside and Sand City taking more of the responsibility.

    • Royal Calkins April 19, 2017, 3:52 pm

      i think he was referring there to the cost of joining up, not the cost of liability down the road

      • Colleen beye April 25, 2017, 1:53 pm

        There is no cost to join– just the very short term low risk loan guarantee

  • Alice Angell Green April 18, 2017, 12:41 pm

    What Susan says is correct. Additionally, there was some concern, due to what was considered vague language by the City Attorney regarding a potential financial liability, that some Council Members felt uneasy enough about to change their vote to “No”. Whether this potential liability, due to the above mentioned vague language (which has never before arisen in other jurisdictions, btw) is enough to put the kibosh on currently participating, was an issue extensively discussed.