Community Choice Energy, also referred to as Community Choice Aggregation, allows local control over electricity purchases for the community. All of the CCE programs in California offer cleaner energy at lower prices than the utility’s power option. Plus, Community Choice provides more locally generated energy which leads to an increase in well-paying local jobs.

Those are the basics, but CCE programs have so many positive attributes, that I’ve put together a list of bullet points summarizing the benefits for the City of San Diego over its monopoly utility provider, San Diego Gas & Electric. Feel free pick and choose your favorites. There should be something for everyone!

Community Choice for San Diego:

  • CCAs start-up costs are typically 1 to 3 million dollars (table 4-3)
  • Sonoma Clean Power saved its 195,000 customers 48 million dollars in 2015 (SCP 2016 Annual report page 7/9)
  • If a CCA in the City of San Diego were to achieve equal savings per customer as Sonoma Clean Power, it would save the 700,000 City of San Diego customers 171 million dollars each year. That means the 3 million dollars in startup costs would be recouped through customer savings in just 6.5 days.
  • SDG&E charges very high rates for electricity. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, California rates are 48% higher than the national average.
  • According to the LA Times, SDG&E electricity rates are double the rates offered by Sacramento’s municipal utility.
  • CCAs in California are well established successes. CCAs are operating in Marin, Napa, Contra Costa, Solano and San Mateo Counties plus the Cities of Lancaster and San Francisco.
  • Counties scheduled to launch CCAs in 2017 are Alameda, Mendocino, Humboldt and Santa Clara.
  • Additionally, the majority of cities in the County of San Diego are investigating starting CCAs.
  • CCAs eliminate the SDG&E monopoly but do not eliminate SDG&E as an option for individuals to buy power. Customers can choose to get either SDG&E power or CCA power, after CCA start-up.
  • CCAs create competition between power options. Competition results in lower prices. That is what we have seen in each of the last two locations (PCE and SVCE) where CCAs were started.
  • A standard SDG&E talking point is that utilities can provide low cost power and decrease pollution from electricity generation thus there is no need for a CCA. However, in California, none of the CCA programs have been beaten in cost or clean energy content by the incumbent utility.
  • SDG&E is worried enough about competition that they are illegally lobbying against CCAs (SD Union Tribune).
  • SDG&E parent company Sempra made $419 million (page 13) in profit on natural gas sales in 2015 giving them nearly half a billion reasons to avoid committing to clean energy.
  • Implementing a CCA quickly is important in order to reduce the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment.
  • Reducing electricity costs to residents grows the economy by giving residents greater disposable income.
  • CCAs increase local jobs by increasing power purchases from local electricity sources.
  • Silicon Valley’s CCA program provides a default option of 100% GHG free energy at a lower rate than the local utility’s 30% renewable energy option.
  • If a CCA in San Diego were to achieve the same clean energy content as the Silicon Valley CCA, we would be on track to achieve the 2030 City of San Diego GHG reduction goal a decade early while saving money. Electricity generation accounts for 24% of current CO2e emissions in the city (page 3).
  • To summarize, CCA electricity is cleaner, cheaper and better for the local economy.

Clean Power Now

Community Choice is a great program, but you don’t have to wait until a CCA or CCE program is available in your area to take action. There are programs out there that offer to offset your electricity consumption with clean electricity generation. The offering by Arcadia Power offsets 50% of the electricity you use with clean wind power free of charge. I like this particular program because of the transparency and high quality partners, including the Sierra Club. The program uses Green-e certified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) promoted by the EPA as a good way to increase the amount of renewable energy on the grid. RECs definitely are not a cure all. CCE is a better option, but for those people who don’t have 100% clean power available in any other way, programs like Arcadia Power are a great place to start.

The Next Step

Want to learn how to switch to clean energy even if you live in an apartment? This article shares an ideal way for anyone to access clean energy. If you are inspired to learn about other ways you can increase your clean energy usage, check out the how-to pages: Easy, Intermediate, and Total Commitment.

At ButItJustMightWork, we strive to make your life more fun, more convenient and more affordable with clean energy.

Community Choice Energy – California

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