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. Two of 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), made up of approximately 500,000 customers in 138 cities and towns across eight counties, procured a power supply contract that switched electric generation fuel supply from a mix of coal and nuclear power to a mix of natural gas and a small percentage of renewably powered electricity, announcing a 70% air pollution reduction in the region's power mix. The contract also included solar photovoltaic demonstration projects in each of the eight counties. Ohio's contracting process was led by Scott Ridley, an energy consultant who had created the concept of Community Choice Aggregation in Massachusetts and was the advisor for the Cape Light Compact.
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.
The Hampshire Council of Governments has filed petitions for Municipal Aggregation of Electricity on behalf of 38 communities in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, and Worcester Counties. After approval by state regulators, the Council will arrange supply for those customers who have not chosen an independent supplier. These include Great Barrington in Berkshire County; sixteen participating communities in Hampshire County including Belchertown, Chesterfield, Cummington, Easthampton, Goshen, Granby, Hadley, Hatfield, Huntington, Middlefield, Northampton, Pelham, Plainfield, Southampton, Westhampton, and Williamsburg; thirteen Franklin County participating towns including Buckland, Charlemont, Conway, Deerfield, Gill, Heath, Leverett, Montague, Northfield, Rowe, Warwick, Wendell, and Whately; and eight Worcester County participating towns: Barre, Brookfield, East Brookfield, Mendon, New Braintree, North Brookfield, Upton, and West Brookfield.
Other towns and cities are working to complete the initial process, in addition to these 38 communities, which have a combined population of over 160,000 people.
In the early days of the California energy crisis, Paul Fenn, a legislative aide in the Massachusetts Senate who took part in early discussions on CCA, carried the concept to California and formed Local Power (local.org and localpower.com). He 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 adopted 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.
Sonoma created their CCA, Sonoma Clean Power, in 2013. It includes the County of Sonoma, Windsor, Cotati, Sebastopol, and the City of Sonoma. Geof Syphers was named CEO on July 2, 2013. It is expected to start providing power in early 2014.  SonomaCleanPower.org
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