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Sonoma Clean Power (www.sonomacountwater.org/cca) is a program being developed by the Sonoma County Water Agency to purchase electricity for Sonoma County customers. This program has multiple benefits and risks, is complex and not well understood by Sonoma County residents and businesses. In order to help the North Bay Business Journal readers understand the various aspects of Sonoma Clean Power, the Journal is partnering with the Sonoma County Water Agency to publish a series of articles discussing the various aspects of this effort. This third article [see part 1] discusses the scope and history of community choice aggregation (CCA) in California and nationally.National view

Community choice aggregation as an electricity delivery framework has been in existence since 1997 and is currently statutorily allowed in six states -- California, Massachusetts, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey and Rhode Island. In the 2012 election cycle, nearly 300 municipalities approved CCA, mostly in Illinois. Massachusetts’s Cape Light Compact has the longest running CCA in the nation serving 200,000 customers in 21 towns since 1998. The Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) is the nation’s largest CCA serving 500,000 customers in 9 counties, achieving $127 million in electricity cost savings for their customers. Rhode Island has a single CCA serving a municipal load of 36 cities and delivering $18 million in electricity savings since 1999.

Illinois has the fastest rate of CCA adoption in the United States with 237 communities approving CCA referendums in March of 2012 alone. For example, in 2011 the Village of Oak Park, Ill. established a community electricity aggregation program through a two-year contract with Chicago-based Integrys Energy Services to supply electricity and credits from 100 percent green sources like wind and solar, while still saving local customers about 25 percent over the current state-approved electricity provider. Oak Park began the initiative in April of 2011 after voters approved a referendum to authorize the Village to aggregate all residential and small business electric accounts and seek bids for electricity on the open market. Previously this had only been available to large industrial and commercial enterprises as a means to reduce their electricity costs.California

In California, a number of municipalities are exploring the formation of community choice aggregation programs. CCA efforts in various forms are underway in San Diego County, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles County, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Richmond, Oakland, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Emeryville, San Marcos and Berkeley.  The first, and currently only operating CCA in California, is based in Marin County.

The Marin Energy Authority, a public, not-for-profit joint powers authority of local cities and towns, formed in 2008 and launched its CCA program, coined Marin Clean Energy, in 2010. Marin Clean Energy (www.marincleanenergy.com) gives customers the choice of having 50 percent to 100 percent of their electricity supplied from clean, renewable sources such as solar, wind, water, and biomass at competitive rates. Nearly 95,000 customers throughout Marin County have joined MCE, which will begin offering service to Richmond residents and businesses in July 2013. By choosing MCE, customers can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support new in-state and local renewable energy generation.

In Richmond, the City Council voted to become the first California city outside of Marin County to participate in a community choice aggregation program. Richmond is advancing renewable energy policies such as CCA to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions and to attract more green technology businesses to locate in the city.

In September the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Budget & Finance Committee voted in favor of creating CleanPowerSF, entering into a contract with Shell Energy North America to supply power. ...

Amy Christopherson Bolten is the public information officer for the Sonoma County Water Agency. She can be reached at amy.bolten@scwa.ca.gov or 707-547-1918.