Community Choice Aggregation
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Community Choice Aggregation, abbreviated CCA, is a system (neither a company nor an organization) adopted into law in the states of Massachusetts, Ohio, California, New Jersey and Rhode Island which allows cities and counties to aggregate the buying power of individual customers within a defined jurisdiction in order to secure alternative energy supply contracts. Currently, nearly one million Americans receive service from CCAs. CCA's are de facto public utilities.
In Massachusetts, where the law was first enacted in 1997, the towns of Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard formed the Cape Light Compact and successfully lobbied for passage of seminal CCA legislation that had been filed by State Senator and Energy Committee Chairman Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), Senate 447 (1995). The Cape Light Compact founders, Falmouth Selectman Matthew Patrick and Barnstable County Commissioner Rob O'Leary, were subsequently elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate respectively.
The Cape Light Compact currently serves 200,000 customers, running aggressive and transparent energy efficiency programs and installing solar installations on Cape Cod schools, fire stations and libraries. In Ohio, the nation's largest CCA was formed shortly after 1999 when the state legislature adopted a CCA law - the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) switched approximately 500,000 customers in 100 mostly rural towns from a utility mix of coal and nuclear power to a mix of natural gas and renewably powered electricity, announcing a 70% air pollution reduction in the region's power mix.
Former FERC Commissioner Nora Brownell has called Community Choice Aggregations in Massachusetts and Ohio “the only great exceptions to the failure of electric deregulation in the U.S.” With every CCA yet formed still in operation and charging ratepayers less per kilowatt hour than their Investor-Owned-Utilities, CCAs have proven to be reliable and capable of delivering greener power at competitive prices. Ohio’s Office of the Consumer’s Council has said that CCA is “the greatest success story” in Ohio’s competitive market, and new legislation to re-regulate utility rates in Ohio will preserve CCA even if other forms of competition are eliminated. In Massachusetts, the success of the Cape Light Compact has led to the formation of new CCAs used in towns such as Marlborough, Massachusetts.
In June 2011, the Hampshire Council of Governments filed an application for Municipal Aggregation of Electricity on behalf now of twenty-eight communities in Hampshire, Franklin, and Worcester Counties. If approved by state regulators, the Council will arrange supply for those customers who have not chosen an independent supplier. The fourteen participating communities in Hampshire County include Belchertown, Cummington, Easthampton, Goshen, Granby, Hadley, Hatfield, Huntington, Middlefield, Pelham, Plainfield, Southampton, Westhampton, and Williamsburg. The ten Franklin County participating towns are Buckland, Charlemont, Conway, Deerfield, Leverett, Montague, Northfield, Rowe, Warwick, and Wendell. The four participating communities in Worcester County include Brookfield, East Brookfield, North Brookfield, and West Brookfield. These municipalities have a combined population of over 100,000 people.
In the early days of the California energy crisis, Paul Fenn, who had served as Senator Montigny's Energy Advisor, formed Local Power (local.org and localpower.com), drafted new CCA legislation for California. In a campaign organized by Local Power, the City and County of San Francisco led Oakland, Berkeley, Marin County, and a group of Los Angeles municipalities in adopting resolutions asking for a state CCA law in response to the failure of California's deregulated electricity market. Fenn's bill was sponsored by then Assembly Member Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) in 2001, and the bill became law (AB117) in September, 2002.
Marin County created the first active CCA in the state, and now also includes the city of Richmond. They offer both a 50% renewable energy option and 100% renewable energy option to their customers, reinvesting net income back into community programs, primarily energy efficiency work in existing buildings.
San Francisco adopted a CCA Ordinance drafted by Fenn (86-04, Tom Ammiano) in 2004, creating a CCA program to build 360 Megawatts (MW) of solar, green distributed generation, wind generation, and energy efficiency and demand response to serve San Francisco ratepayers. Specifically, the ordinance combined the power purchasing authority of CCA with a revenue bond authority also developed by Fenn to expand the power of CCA, known as the H Bond Authority (Charter Section 9.107.8, Ammiano), to finance the new green power infrastructure, worth approximately $1 Billion. In 2007 the City adopted a detailed CCA Plan also written primarily by Fenn (Ordinance 447-07, Ammiano and Mirkarimi), which established a 51% Renewable Portfolio Standard by 2017 for San Francisco.
Inspired by Climate Protection efforts, CCA has spread to cities throughout the Bay Area, and throughout the state. In 2007, forty California local governments are in the process of implementing CCA, virtually all of them seeking to double, triple or quadruple the green power levels (Renewable Portfolio Standard, or "RPS) of the state's three Investor-Owned Utilities. Marin, Oakland and Berkeley are also seeking to employ San Francisco-style revenue bonds and implement a 51% RPS by 2017.
Recently, communities in Southern California have started to investigate the feasibility of forming CCAs because the program allows some flexibility in choosing the mix and sources of power production. A study was produced by The Local Government Commission (LGC) in February 2009 that evaluated forming a CCA and has been published to the California Energy Commission website.
In June 2010, Pacific Gas & Electric sponsored a proposition, Proposition 16, to make it more difficult for local entities to form either municipal utilities or CCAs by requiring a two-thirds vote of the electorate rather than a simple majority, for a public agency to enter the retail power business. Although PG&E contributed over $46 million in an effort to pass the initiative (Prop 16's opponents had access to less than $100,000), Proposition 16 was defeated.
- Community Choice Aggregation at Local.org website
- San Francisco Chronicle, "PG&E initiative on power suppliers on ballot", January 14, 2010
- Capitol Weekly, "Initiative backers submit paperwork promising a busy 2010 cycle", October 22, 2009
- Santa Cruz Sentinel, "Prop 16 is June's priciest ballot initiative, with PG&E coughing up big money", March 25, 2010