Clean Energy Choices in Community Choice Aggregation
By Gail Schickele
Local Clean Energy Alliance coordinator Al Weinrub discussed Community Choice Aggregation at the October NR/Environmental Concerns Speaker Series meeting Oct 14, 2013.
Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) is a system that allows cities and counties to aggregate the buying power of individual customers within a defined jurisdiction in order to secure alternative energy supply contracts.
CCA means choosing where electricity comes from, Weinrub explained: Market purchase, which he says offers an unstable electricity market, price volatility, and no guarantee of GHG reductions; or CCA energy, which offers local renewables, price stability, economic development in community, clean energy jobs, and local GHG reductions, he said.
CCAs were created in California by state law (AB 117) in 2002. If Berkeley, Oakland and other East Bay cities choose to create a CCA, their effort would join those already approved in Sonoma, Marin and San Francisco. There are 10 counties statewide and some 1200 municipalities nationwide now under CCA service, according to Local Power Founder and Director Paul Fenn, an author of California’s Community Choice Law. By giving City Councils decision-making power over resource planning and rate-setting, Community Choice allows municipalities to be served by Electric Service Providers (ESPs), which work in California’s electricity market to provide bulk power services as well as create major new business development opportunity for renewable energy, energy efficiency, conservation, and distributed generation vendors, integrators, service companies and developers. Weinrub said CCA benefits unions, local businesses, residents, trainers, property owners, and utility rate payers by using government procured cheaper energy while using the established power grid owned and maintained by PG&E.
“We need to create net-zero-energy communities,” Weinrub emphasized. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a net-zero-energy community (ZEC) s one that significantly reduces energy needs through efficiency gains so that the balance of energy for vehicles, thermal and electrical energy within the community is met by renewable energy.
California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard Program’s goal is to increase the percentage of renewable energy in the state’s electricity mix, currently about 15 percent, to 33 percent by 2020. Large hydro is not considered renewable in California.
The LCEA has been actively engaged in working with the Oakland Climate Action Coalition (OCAC) as well as the Berkeley Climate action Plan Coalition to make sure that the city’s Energy and Climate Action Plan addresses climate justice and the needs of vulnerable communities by taking the lead on energy and GHG reduction target-setting and actions to reduce building energy use. The OCAC has more than twenty-five organizations, including the Ella Baker Center, Communities for a Better Environment, Asian-Pacific Environmental Network, Rising Sun Energy Center, and Sustainable Peralta. The LCEA is actively participating on the OCAC Steering Committee.
Weinrub authored Community Power: Decentralized Renewable Energy in California, has conducted energy policy briefings for a various organizations, serves on the Sierra Club California Energy-Climate Committee and is a past national officer and member the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981, AFL-CIO. He lives in Oakland.
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