Local News

Council Supports Audit of Orange County Power Authority

Citing recent leadership and transparency concerns about the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA), City Council voted unanimously on July 5 to support an independent audit of the agency by the city of Irvine, as well as to draft a letter requesting answers to the issues raised by a recent OC Grand Jury Report.

Fullerton City Hall. Photo by Jesse La Tour.

OCPA is a community choice energy (CCE) agency that was established in 2019 to give member cities a greater mix of renewable energy. Currently, OCPA’s members include Irvine, Fullerton, Huntington Beach, Buena Park, and unincorporated areas of Orange County.

The Grand Jury report expressed concern with the lack of relevant experience of OCPA CEO Brian Probolsky, and cites’ numerous problems with OCPA transparency.

Councilmember Jesus Silva highlighted some of the findings of the report, particularly having a lack of bylaws, hiring failing to follow best practices, and stifling the participation of the Community Advisory Committee.

“I know that if the power authority collapses under these investigations, the City is not on the hook for anything because Irvine is bankrolling it” Silva said.“But currently our commercial businesses have been forced into choosing.”

Service for commercial customers began in April, and service for residential customers is expected to begin in October. If customers do not opt out of the service, they will be enrolled in the 70% renewable energy option.

“I am concerned about the credibility of this agency moving forward,” Zahra said. “Any investigation needs to be thorough and independent, and it cannot take extended periods of time. I hope the letter we send out is not a letter of questions but a letter demanding transparency and accountability.”

Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Whitaker expressed concern that the cost savings initially promised by OCPA were not actually happening and that rates could be higher than Southern California Edison (SCE).

“This has just turned out to be exactly what we expected it to be—it’s kind of a created government disaster,” Councilmember Dunlap said. “I think we’re expecting this agency to do something that perhaps it’s not capable of, and that’s righting itself.”

Mayor Fred Jung is Fullerton’s representative on the board of OCPA and supported the audit and letter.

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