The Irvine City Council’s expected discussion regarding the city’s future participation in the Orange County Power Authority was delayed on Tuesday, Feb. 14, after Irvine City Council member Mike Carroll requested the item be moved to a later date.
Yet, despite the delay, this is not the first time Irvine’s future with the highly scrutinized two-year-old energy provider has come into question.
In December, after the Orange County Board of Supervisors opted out of the agency, the Council voted to mend the internal issues plaguing the green energy provider.
Now as a member of the OCPA Board representing the Irvine City Council, Dr. Kathleen Treseder called a special meeting for the OCPA on Friday, Feb 10 to discuss hiring a special counsel to assist in the removal of OCPA CEO Brian Probolsky.
Specifically, Treseder has expressed publicly that the lack of energy sector experience demonstrated by Mr. Probolsky is not up to industry standards.
In a phone call with Irvine Weekly, Treseder explained that she called the special meeting in order to begin the steps to remove Mr. Probolsky with outside counsel due to the complexity of removing a CEO in a Community Choice Energy framework.
Tresder’s attempt for a second vote was unsuccessful.
“It seemed to me there was very little appetite for considering replacing the CEO – I didn’t even get a second,” she said “I made it really clear before the meeting that if I couldn’t receive support for removing the CEO, I was going to vote to pull Irvine out of OCPA at our next council meeting.”
In response, Treseder, who said on Friday she no longer has confidence in the authority’s leadership, added that it would be a disservice to ratepayers in Irvine if the city continued to support the OCPA despite these concerns.
On Tuesday, the item was pushed to the Council meeting on Feb. 28. But, historically speaking, Treseder could have been a deciding vote on the city’s future with OCPA once again.
In December, the Council voted 3-2 to stay enrolled with the OCPA and fix the inner turmoil, and specifically emphasized the removal of Mr. Probolsky.
In terms of cost, a staff report included with the special meeting agenda indicated that Irvine would be responsible for approximately $145 million in withdrawal costs. Irvine ratepayers count for the majority of OCPA accounts — about 40% — with the other 60% of accounts spread across Huntington Beach, Fullerton and Buena Park.
Irvine Council Member Mike Carroll, who is the former chairman of the OCPA Board of Directors, said the spotlight was on Irvine’s decision to exit in December, in the sense that the Council would be “tanking” the authority by departing.
While Carroll agreed with the decision to exit, Carroll said the Supervisors hold the majority of responsibility for OCPA’s success.
In that December vote, Council Members Larry Agran and Mike Carroll opted to leave the agency, with Irvine Mayor Khan and Vice Mayor Kim opting to stay.
Treseder was the swing vote, and she voted to stay.
“If everybody keeps the same votes that they have – and I changed my vote, that would change the Council determination. I don’t know if people would keep the same vote, we’ll see,” Treseder said in reference to the upcoming revisit of the decision.
OCPA held its regularly scheduled board meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 15, during which it was announced that the agency would be searching for a new general counsel after the departure of Ryan Baron, the agency’s former general counsel, on Feb. 6.
“After today’s meeting, I’m pleased with the direction the Board is moving in,” Treseder shared with Irvine Weekly via text message. “I appreciate that we’re searching for a new General Counsel.”
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