Community Choice Aggregation lets cities and counties select their own electricity provider, prioritize renewable energy and encourage conservation, without having to own the utility or the power lines. It has expanded in California, and this paper provides an update on this innovative policy.
For years, the U.S. has been served by four forms of electric utility: investor-owned, cooperative, municipal, and federal (e.g. Tennessee Valley Authority). This list is changing. Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) is a law passed in several states that allows cities and/or counties to join together and form a utility that will serve all electric customers in its jurisdiction by default (an opt-out rather than an opt-in process). This framework guarantees a customer base for public entities desiring to provide electricity to homes and businesses in their jurisdiction and can be used to lower costs, improve conservation, and increase renewable energy generation.
In a feasibility study for the city of Oakland, a CCA of local municipalities was estimated to reduce rates by 5% over business as usual (with utility Pacific Gas & Electric – PG&E). This mirrors the savings found in CCAs in Ohio and other states.
Update Sept. 2011: In an email an National Renewable Energy Laboratory researcher, I learned that there are CCA laws in Illinois and New Jersey, and that Marin Clean Energy is another active CCA in California. This report on the feasibility of a CCA for Marin County, CA, provides a good overview of the status of CCAs around the country and this news story discusses how Oak Park, IL, is pursuing a local CCA.