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Community Choice Aggregation

Following Local Power’s lead, municipalities are increasingly choosing CCA specifically as a powerful vehicle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create local economic development and green jobs, or improve local energy resilience. This is possible because CCA is enabled and facilitated by state laws under which communities may break away from their monopoly electricity supplier and negotiate with energy wholesalers, and sometimes brokers, and local renewable energy developers and energy efficiency installers. As of 2022, CCA laws cover ove one half U.S. annual electricity demand in ten states, with over 1800 municipalities (rapidly growing) already serving over thirty (30) million Americans(10%). CCA is widely recognized for achieving the highest levels of green power at the lowest prices in the United States, building many Gigawatts of new local renewable energy, and has already saved American residents and businesses in the billions of dollars on their energy bills in the past two decades. Today, CCA is poised to serve as a needed platform for climate mobilization, and in fact is prominently listed in the Green New Deal. In 2020, Local Power released its latest iteration of CCA program design after over 25 years of full-time development, "CCA 3.0", which we call The Local Green New Deal, and is working with municipalities to implement this program design.


CCAs are statutorily authorized retail electricity choice programs administered by municipalities, which aggregate the demand of all customers within their jurisdictional boundaries, enrolling customers on an opt-out basis (2022 U.S. avg. opt-out is under 15%), in order to leverage the negotiation of contracts with retail or wholesale energy providers, as well as energy efficiency installers and renewable energy developers, variously and with differing local rules and regulatory conditions according to state CCA laws and other state-defined retail energy utility industry regulatory structures. Some CCAs also aggregate community gas service for heating. CCAs form in order to control energy sourcing locally, lower and stabilize rates, green their power supplies, and in some cases to make and repay investments in accelerated and expanded energy efficiency measures, and/or develop local renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. CCAs are now also leaders in microgrid-, electric vehicle- and other advanced distributed energy resource-deployment, operation and marketing.

The Story of CCA

Paul Fenn, founder and president of Local Power, drafted both the nation's original version of CCA legislation, in Massachusetts, and its most advanced and powerful form in California. Local Power also developed original solar finance authority legislation approved at the municipal level to offer bond financing to customer-owned renewables and efficiency. Originally designing CCA for a retail market in which municipalities would hire brokers to procure cheaper or greener power from wholesale suppliers, Fenn redesigned the policy for his home state California and won sponsorship of new "wholesale" CCA legislation, which was adopted during California's energy crisis in 2002. Writing and organizing support for Massachusetts' landmark CCA as a Climate Protection policy platform, he was disappointed with the "superficial" outcome of CCA in Massachusetts and Ohio in the late 1990's, in which CCAs narrowly focused on short-term discounts for small customers (saving on average 5-15%), ultimately delaying action on energy localization. In this early period, CCA had proven the superior economics of CCA over deregulation, but not changed the basic business model.

The new "wholesale" form of CCA for California put municipal programs into an "operational" role with CCA implementation. Based on his earlier experience, Paul Fenn saw that rather than merely hiring a broker or wholesaler, California CCAs could handle and control more components of the energy service to make a longer-term approach to energy procurement possible. They could hire one or more contractors for transmission scheduling, resource adequacy, data management and back office operators in addition to procurement planning, offering energy efficiency products and supervising renewable energy development.

But getting California CCA to focus on localization required a new building block as well. Local Power focused in California particularly on financing local renewables and efficiency. Local Power founders Paul Fenn drafted, and Julia Peters led the successful campaign for, San Francisco’s voter approved "Solar Bonds" in 2001 to augment his earlier law so that CCAs could not merely purchase grid power but finance and install customer-owned local renewables and energy efficiency. The Proposition H Bond, Solar Bond, was passed by voters in 2001.

The next ten years witnessed the progressive marriage of Solar Bonds with CCA into a whole new model for energy - "CCA 2.0." This led to the formation by Paul Fenn and Julia Peters of Local Power LLC. There was a need to demonstrate by creating business models and solutions in law and regulation to empower the local municipal authority to finance construction and operation of renewable distributed energy resources. To achieve localization with CCA, Local Power began to work directly for local governments to lay out, step by step, a path to recentering the production of power on the city and its population - and recentering the business model away from sales and around regional demand reduction.

Starting in 2002, Local Power went into the details of making localization possible by developing the policy and program design paths to implement local "build-outs" by CCAs as consultant to municipalities. Local Power won favorable state rules and data access from the California Public Utilities Commission to pursue CCA 2.0, and worked with leading CCAs including San Francisco, Sonoma County and emerging CCAs in California and other states to make CCA 2.0 a reality. Both regions are now pursuing ambitious programs designed specifically for localization of renewbles and accelerated, scaled demand and carbon reduction.

Today, because of the leading development of the policy by Paul Fenn and the design work of Local Power, California CCAs are localizing their energy supplies using our innovations, such as contracting for local renewable projects, innovative strategies for energy efficiency, and customer ownership with on-bill financing arrangements. LPI continues to advocate and develop this bolder, scaled, accelerated and enduring approach to CCA and has won a significant following for its approach in the process, with more and more CCAs defining their purpose in terms of the benefits of physical localization: green jobs, substantial and permanent greenhouse gas reductions, and customer ownership. Local Power drafted CCA 2.0 legislation for New York State in 2014, and has been working with state regulators and the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) since Governor Cuomo subsequently issued an executive order authorizing CCA as a new platform for Distributed Energy Resources.

The Detailed Work of Real Localization

Growing nationwide interest in CCA is increasingly focused on physical localization in order to create more "real" benefits than greener energy supply or cheaper rates, such as local economic development, green jobs, and enduring greenhouse gas reductions, and even the Marin Energy Authority, which initially resisted this path, has adopted it as of 2014, and the same year three other CCAs had received Green Community awards from the Environmental Protection Agency.

When Local Power shifted our focus to implementation in early 2000s, intervening with California Public Utilities Commission in 2004, and winning regulatory approval of full data access for CCAs to create models for energy localization, the company was as a result retained by Sonoma County to collect and analyze one of the first detailed Big Data releases in the United States of customer energy data including every meter read for those cities and counties investigating CCA for five years into the past. Between 2011 and 2013 Local Power completed its CCA 2.0 program design for the City of San Francisco's CleanPowerSF program, preparing a business plan for the City to issue $1B in Solar Bonds to build a 25% localized energy system in five years, purchasing 100% renewable energy while maintaining rate parity with PG&E, and generating a $600M surplus in the tenth year of service. As CCA has grown from just a few municipalities to over a thousand municipalities, Local Power has acted as Research & Development arm of the CCA movement, using CCA access to end-user data to create regional energy localization cost/financial models, and to prepare local governments like Sonoma County and San Francisco for their "soft landing" to implement city and countywide energy localizations and greenhouse gas reductions at rate parity or lower rates than the incumbent utility.

Today, with so many Americans living within CCAs, including well-known population centers like City of San Francisco and Cincinnati, rural areas like Sonoma County as well as many hundreds of less known small towns and rural counties, Local Power's CCA 3.0 Report has articulated a new CCA business and operations model to implement municipally-run climate mobiliziations, through a "three dimensional" strategy that integrates electric vehicles and HVAC/hot water installations to augment widespread deployments of renewable microgrids, launches a "universal renewable shares" option for every CCA customer, adds logistical and billing support for customer microgrid cooperatives, and engages municipal governments within CCAs to issue Green Bonds, and manage customer DER loan accounts. Designed to be implemented with smaller, more focused agencies than are required in California's CCA 2.0 (central generation) paradigm, CCA 3.0 triples the technological horizon of decarbonization, and exponentially expands the voluntary customer invesment horizon in this localization, for a maximum, sustained carbon impact on a magnitude and schedule that is, indeed, commensurate with the United Nation's ten-year (2030) horizon for the worldwide transformation of energy in order to avert "irreversible damage to the earth's ecology." Climate emergency activists, take notice! You have an implementation platform. It is called Community Choice 3.0. The Local Green New Deal.

 Article about Paul Fenn's 2020 CCA Movement in Bloomberg News (2018)

 Paul Fenn 2018 book of Critical Political Theory coauthored by Eduardo Subirats of New York University and Christopher Britt of George Washington University at Palgrave Macmillan/Springer (2018)

 Article about Paul Fenn's CCA History in Fast Company Magazine (2010)

 Wikipedia Article about Community Choice Aggregation Wikipedia

 Wikipedia Article about Solar Bonds in Wikipedia

 Local Power staff early article on Community Choice paradigm shift reprinted from Natural Gas & Electricity (Wileys, 2008).

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