RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -

Coachella Valley cities, like all others in California, are required by law to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

To help with that, the city of Rancho Mirage is now exploring the possibility of forming its own utility -- and buying energy on the open market.

"You can buy from a variety of power sources from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. When a buyer goes out and buys their basket of energy, they choose which pieces of the pie to buy. And that's something we would like to be more involved in," said Mayor Scott Hines.

It could make the city an energy alternative to utilities like Southern California Edison.

Hines says it's all about reducing the carbon footprint and giving residents a choice.

"Rate payers could choose if they want 100 percent of their energy to come from renewables -- 50 percent or less. We give the rate payers choice through a program like this," Hines said.

Some residents say they like the idea, if it can work.

"Saving the planet for our grandchildren -- that's a biggie. At the same time, lowering some bills would be really nice," said Rancho Mirage resident Annie Grimshaw.

But if the plan doesn't help people save money, Hines says the city may pass.

"We're smart enough to know what we don't know," he said.

The city will move forward to find an energy consultant to help study the practicality of a city-owned utility.