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All About Community Choice Aggregation (Plus FAQs)

All About Community Choice Aggregation (Plus FAQs)

Community choice aggregation is a decision that each state and county must make for themselves, and while some states are actively participating in community choice aggregation programs other have been slower to consider this alternative. According to National Conference of State Legislation, “States may consider aggregation to reduce electricity costs, provide power from local sources or purchase energy from renewable sources.” States that do provide aggregation to resident’s benefit from the reduced price of electricity and the draw of residents from other states who are interested in participating in community choice aggregation programs.

Although many proponents of community choice aggregation say that the programs lead to less use of greenhouse gases and the programs are better for the environment some lawmakers are speaking out about how CCAs are living up to this promise. The former mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders, recently wrote an article in the Sacramento Bee, admonishing CCAs that fail to truly fulfill on promises to reduce greenhouse gases. In his article, in the Sacramento Bee, Sanders stated that: “These programs produce very little new renewable energy, instead of buying from existing sources, including out-of-state wind and solar farms. They take credit for improving our environment but they’re not actually reducing carbon emissions.”

Community choice aggregation is still relatively new and currently only available in a handful of states and local governments nationwide, but more programs are being adopted due to the benefits provided to residents and the hope that these programs will be a gamechanger in reducing our negative effects on the environment. As more companies are pursuing technologies to provide electricity from renewable sources, the possibility for more states to begin adopting these programs increases. States that are already participating are still struggling to determine where to purchase their investor-owned utilities from and how to find and provide the lowest energy prices to customers. Voting through local governments is currently underway in many other states about the possibility of providing community choice aggregation, and as more communities adopt the programs the need for cheaper more environmentally-friendly sources of energy grows.

Most customers who benefit from a community choice aggregator are happy that their state has already legalized the programs. They see savings and receive better services than they were able to before adopting the community choice aggregation. In some places, residents continue to fight for their right to community choice aggregation as energy companies are not happy that they’re losing money with these new programs.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Can you opt out of community choice aggregation programs?

In some cases, yes, you can. In other cases, you won’t be able to while you currently reside in an area that is actively participating in an aggregation program. In California, Pacific Gas and Electric partners with CCA to provide electricity through their transmission and distribution system. According to the PG&E official website, to opt out of CCA in California you must submit your request directly to the CCA and you are only able to opt out if “your area is transitioning to the CCA for the first time or you start a new electric service within an existing CCA area.” California is one of the states with the highest support and involvement in CCA. In other states, the opt-out process is more complicated, in Illinois the process is much more involved, involving government hearing and creating education plans for anyone interested in leaving their community choice aggregation. The process seems almost as difficult as introducing the CCA into effect. As different states begin adopting community choice aggregation, it is becoming more difficult for residents in the service areas to opt out of the programs, but it usually can be done.

  • Which States have CCAs?

There are only seven states in the United States where participating in a CCA is legal to all residents, these states are California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island. There are four states that are on the Watch List/Potential adopters, which are Nevada, Colorado, Oregon, and Virginia. Other states that are interested in starting CCAs are Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Washington.

  • How do CCAs affect Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

CCAs can have a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions as members of the CCAs are able to choose where and how they get their energy for electricity. While most CCAs focus is to save residents money, another reason CCAs receive community support is that residents can have more choice over where and how their electricity is provided. Communities can choose if they want to get energy from renewable sources like wind and solar; however, according to leanenergy.org in states like Illinois, “Illinois’ MEAs—purchase energy from coal, nuclear and combined cycle gas plants, but offset the associated greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing unbundled renewable energy certificates (RECs).”

  • Why isn’t community choice aggregation available in my state?

Not all states are pursuing community choice aggregation. Some states residents and politicians are not interested in bringing programs such as this to their communities while others fear that it would affect the job market in their current state. If being involved in a community choice aggregation is very important to you, consider attending your town hall meetings to understand more of what would be involved in starting a program like this in your state.

Community choice aggregation is a great method for communities to work together to improve their energy resources and obtain lower prices for community members on utilities. While some states are way ahead of others in providing these opportunities to their community’s members other states are interested in joining in on the savings and helping the environment as well. Community choice aggregation is becoming an increasingly popular method for states to provide quality services to their citizens and reduce costs for residents. While it is still being debated in many areas, the cities and counties that have been early adopters of this method of providing service to residents have become good resources for neighboring counties and states that are interested in participating in community choice aggregation in the future.