The Institute for Local Self-Reliance put on a webinar exploring a February 2020 report on Community Choice Energy. In the webinar, which took place on March 5th, John Farrell explains where, how, and why community choice energy programs are gaining popularity, and the many benefits they offer, including the accelerated adoption of renewable energy.
Watch the recorded webinar and check out the transcribed Q&A material, below.
Q: What level of participation do we see from low-income customers in community choice energy adoption?
A: Low-income customers, like all customers, are automatically enrolled in a community choice program. Each program can decide how it wants to address clean energy access for low-income customers specifically.
Q: Is the reason that Georgetown and Denton committed because TX is deregulated?
A: The political commitment to 100% renewable usually just comes from the elected officials. Denton and Georgetown have a plausible path because they have city-owned, municipal electric utilities.
Q: How do community solar gardens that are community financed compare with CCA in terms of community benefits?
A: It’s really an apples-to-oranges comparison. Community solar comes in a lot of flavors, but is one method that individuals or groups of customers have access to renewable energy directly. Community choice involves the supply decision for an entire city or county. Both can have financial and economic benefits. They’re also not mutually exclusive!
Q: Is Arcadia Power kind of like a CCA?
A: Not at all. Arcadia inserts itself as the bill payer between a customer and the utility, allowing the customer to purchase renewable energy credits to green up their electricity in addition to paying for their power. It doesn’t reflect community ownership or municipal boundaries.
Q: Do you have a model for a statute for instituting community choice in regulated states?
A: Please see our model policies for the Community Power Scorecard
Q: What are the top three PUC or legislative barriers to overcome or changes necessary to make community CCA’s more quick to adopt?
A: The biggest barrier is enabling legislation. They can’t happen without it. However, once enabled, California illustrates the challenges faced by CCAs from incumbents. Legislation in 2011 established a “code of conduct” to keep incumbent utilities from using their market power to stop CCAs, but it didn’t prevent utilities from bankrolling legislation in 2014 to change community choice programs to opt-in, a poison pill that would have stopped development.
Q: What are the biggest challenges in deploying community choice programs?
A: See the above question about enabling legislation. Once legal, the second biggest challenge is finding the local expertise to launch and run one, but there’s a lot of experienced folks out there now (including trade groups like CalCCA) to help cities.
Q: Sorry if I missed this – walked away – but did you mention the Athens, OH carbon fee? That starts collecting on the June 2020 meter-read date.
A: I didn’t, but the Athens carbon fee is in the report and we have an excellent podcast interview about it, as well.