Orange County Power Authority to include unincorporated areas of county

Huntington Beach City Councilman Mike Posey asks a question during a meeting of the Orange County Power Authority.
Huntington Beach City Councilman Mike Posey asks a question during a community feedback meeting of the Orange County Power Authority at the Huntington Beach City Council chambers in August. Posey is a member of the OCPA Board of Directors.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The Orange County Power Authority has expanded its grasp as the community choice energy program readies itself to launch service in 2022.

The Community Choice Energy program, which was formed as an alternative to Southern California Edison and promises cleaner power at stable rates, announced that the County of Orange has entered into the OCPA Joint Powers Agreement.

This means that unincorporated areas of the county, like Coto de Caza, Emerald Bay and Midway City, will be able to participate in OCPA’s electricity service and sustainability programs.


Residents and businesses in the county’s unincorporated areas join OCPA’s current member cities of Huntington Beach, Irvine, Fullerton and Buena Park to create a user base of about 825,000, according to chief executive Brian Probolsky.

Probolsky said the combined population of the unincorporated areas is about 120,000 to 130,000.

“We’re excited to welcome the County of Orange to OCPA membership,” Probolsky said. “It brings community choice to businesses and residents of the unincorporated areas of Orange County, and it makes renewable energy more accessible to everyone by giving customers choice of power for their business or their homes. We’re helping local communities take an active role in addressing climate change and ensuring a resilient future.”

Orange County Third District Supervisor Donald Wagner will represent the county on the OCPA Board of Directors, joining a board that includes Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Mike Posey.

“Serving as your Orange County Supervisor, I support renewable energy development, conservation programs, and efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions,” Wagner said in a statement. “We owe it to our children and grandchildren to leave the world in better shape.”

The OCPA still plans to launch service for municipal, commercial and industrial accounts in April, Probolsky said, while residential service is scheduled to launch in October 2022. He said there are about 10 additional cities that the OCPA has had formal or informal discussions with about joining.

But the public utility program is moving forward without a key proponent.

Antonia Castro-Graham, the chief operating officer, resigned on Dec. 3 after a reported conflict with Probolsky during a board meeting on Nov. 9. Castro-Graham, a former assistant to the city manager of Huntington Beach who holds a master’s degree in sustainability leadership, has been a longtime community choice energy advocate.

Castro-Graham, who was unavailable for comment Thursday, said in her resignation letter to the board of directors that the OCPA “has very much been my baby.”

“When I was offered this position, I was overjoyed as it was my dream job,” she wrote. “Sadly, I can no longer work at a place where I am not respected, thus I have chosen to seek employment elsewhere.”

Probolsky declined comment on Castro-Graham leaving, other than saying, “We really wish Ms. Graham well on her future endeavors. As a start-up organization, we’re taking on a large endeavor here, right?” he said. “OCPA is supported by an expert team of consultants, who have helped launch all of the other [Community Choice Aggregation programs] in California. We have a very strong team in place to move OCPA forward.”

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