Clean energy joint venture gains support: San Mateo County joint powers authority formed to buy renewable energy in bulk, October 7, 2015
About 297,000 PG&E customers in San Mateo County could get their energy from renewable sources in less than a year under a joint powers authority being formed called Peninsula Clean Energy.
The Office of Sustainability has been granted $1.5 million to form the joint venture known as Community Choice Aggregation that is already in place in Marin and Sonoma counties.
The county will need at least three of 20 cities to join the JPA to get it off the ground. The hope, however, is that all cities will partner with the county to buy clean energy.
The JPA would allow its customers to buy renewable energy at competitive rates. In fact, customers who purchase 100 percent renewable energy from sources such as wind or solar will see their monthly electric bills rise by a modest $2, according to a technical study the Board of Supervisors heard Tuesday.
The idea is to dramatically reduce the county’s carbon footprint by releasing less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
“Climate change is the challenge of our lifetime and I think it’s a great idea to bring it to the county,” Supervisor Don Horsley said at the board meeting.
A JPA agreement is expected to be in place by the end of winter 2016 and the tentative plan is to start purchasing renewable energy next summer.
SLO County Supervisors vote to study green energy choices with Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, October 6, 2015
San Luis Obispo County is moving forward with plans to bring green energy choices to Central Coast power customers.
Supervisors voted 3-2 on Tuesday to join a feasibility study being done by Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. SLO County will also look at whether going it alone would make more sense.
The green power option is called Community Choice aggregation and it’s currently being done by other communities in the state, including Marin and Sonoma Counties in the Bay Area and the city of Lancaster in Southern California.
San Francisco community choice aggregation program delayed, September 29, 2015
San Francisco’s bid to run on renewable energy has been fraught with obstacles, the latest of which is tied into the California Public Utilities Commission’s hemming and hawing over assessing renewable energy bids for a proposed community choice aggregation program.
Members of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors have expressed frustration with the PUC, which has indicated it will need more time to assess renewable energy bids and subsequently delay the startup of CleanPowerSF.
Supervisor David Campos said at a meeting last week, “I don’t have a lot of confidence that we are going to meet any of the dates we are proposing … I think we are playing into PG&E’s hands. This is a pretty significant change that’s very disappointing.”
Carlsbad approves 20-year plan for city blueprint, September 24, 2015
Carlsbad High School student Arin Zwonitzer asked the council to follow the lead of San Diego and create a goal to have 100 percent renewable energy.
“I am counting on you and holding you responsible to set the bar high,” said Arin Zwonitzer. “I urge the council to believe, for if you do not believe a change can be made then in the end the plan is doomed to fail.”
While the council did not approve a 100 percent clean energy goal, Sierra Club organizer Pete Hasapopoulos said the environmental group still scored a win.
The council approved an addition to the general plan to study the feasibility of Community Choice Aggregation, which is a local government-led program that increases sustainable energy options and reduces energy costs.
In Marin, the local government partnered with Sonoma County to incentivize solar energy at local businesses and lowered the cost of energy.
California passes groundbreaking legislation increasing renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates, but petroleum and greenhouse gas reduction measures fail, September 18, 2015
The end of the California State Legislature’s regular session for the year culminated in a frenzy of action, with Assembly members scrambling to pass dozens of bills before midnight on September 12, 2015. The California Legislature voted on a package of 12 bills addressing environmental and health concerns, such as off-shore drilling, divestment of investment funding from coal companies, water quality, energy efficiency in disadvantaged communities, and increased public transportation. This post analyzes three of the more significant and controversial bills proposed this year, including last minute changes to each during the final week of the session: SB 350; SB 32; and AB 1288.
Smart policy ushering in a new energy paradigm, September 10 2015
As natural disasters become more frequent and weather patterns less predictable, continuing to create and implement smart energy policies remains one of the best tools available to get to “benign outcomes.” One such policy that is quickly gaining purchase across the U.S. is Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). CCA is essentially an energy procurement model that enables communities to become the default power supplier in preference to the current default provider, which is usually the utility. This is a key step in the “think global, act local” movement and the next frontier seems inevitable: locally sourced energy.
City asked to take part in energy study, September 9, 2015
Residents of Moorpark and neighboring cities urged the Moorpark City Council last month to take part in Santa Barbara County’s feasibility study to determine if alternative energy resources could be more cost-effective for energy consumers than using traditional utility companies like Southern California Edison.
Although the idea is ambitious and faces numerous logistical obstacles, proponents hope that if enough local agencies take part in the study an alternative-energy plan with greener options will become a reality.
The study will identify how much money the cities may save by buying energy through community choice aggregation programs rather than utility companies such as SCE or Pacific Gas and Electric.
It will also determine the predicted demand by cities for alternative energy providers as well as potential benefits and risks of implementing a community aggregation program.
If Moorpark decides to join the feasibility study, ratepayer data from cities in both counties will be collected and analyzed. Counties may draft implementation plans for a community aggregation program after the data is collected, giving their preferred energy providers the chance to address future energy needs.
Jim Griffith, Jan Pepper and Rod Sinks: SB 350, AB 1110s include attacks on community choice energy, September 4, 2015
The California Senate is currently considering Senate Bill 350, landmark legislation that sets ambitious goals for renewable energy production. With this bill, California would establish its worldwide leadership as an environmental steward and protector of our planet’s future. The Mercury News has voiced its support for SB 350, and we echo our support for its environmental goals.
Unfortunately, San Diego Gas and Electric has proposed amendments to SB 350 that are specifically intended to hinder Community Choice Energy in California. With these amendments, SB 350 would undermine the very environmental goals that its author intends to champion. One amendment would undermine local control and create new and significant regulatory hurdles for a CCE before it could simply contract for its power. The goal is obviously to make a CCE less nimble and less competitive with traditional utilities.
A second amendment would needlessly increase the cost to implement a CCE and result in higher energy rates for its customers, in a transparent attempt to create roadblocks to forming new CCEs.
Morro Bay City Council to look at expanding its energy options, September 1, 2015
Community choice aggregation programs have been authorized in the state since 2003. Once formed, a city would determine the sources of energy, but would partner with the local utility — PG&E in this case — to provide electricity transmission, maintenance and billing.
At its next meeting, the Morro Bay City Council will be presented with options for participating in a program that would allow it to buy alternative energy supplies for local customers, rather than PG&E’s mix of energy sources.
Peter Rumble, CEO of the Sonoma County-based company California Clean Power, will make a presentation on the program to the council on Sept. 8.
Rumble said in a phone interview this week that the switch to the program, called community choice aggregation, could save Morro Bay money and provide more options for using clean energy.
Community Choice Aggregation energy option moves forward, August 26, 2015
Humboldt County took a further step this week in taking control of local energy purchasing power from Pacific Gas and Electric Company, with a local energy joint powers authority working to bring other jurisdictions on board.
An established state policy, Community Choice Aggregation allows local governments to determine what sources of energy they wish to purchase and set competitive rates comparative to local utilities such as PG&E.
The joint powers authority Redwood Coast Energy Authority — which includes the county, its seven cities and the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District — has been presenting to city councils over the past month about the CCA program in an effort to bring as many members of the authority into the program.
“Our (RCEA) board voted to move forward with developing a countywide CCA option, and from our position that would require each individual jurisdiction to agree to be a part of it,” RCEA Executive Director Matthew Marshall said.
On Tuesday, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors will hear an update from the county’s Executive Office, along with Supervisors John McCowen and Dan Hamburg, about a program that could give discounts to county residents on their electricity.
Called Community Choice Aggregation, the discounts range from 1 to 8 percent, according to Tuesday’s Board agenda. If the county ends up participating, the power would be distributed to consumers through the current Pacific Gas and Electric infrastructure, with the metering and billing remaining the same, but reflecting the lower rate provided by the county.
Brandon: Community choice aggregation – buyer beware, June 8, 2015
Community choice aggregation (CCA) is a cumbersome name for a very promising new way to supply our energy needs.
By “aggregating” consumer buying power to purchase electricity on the wholesale market, CCAs create an alternative to a utility company monopoly that can negotiate with competitive suppliers and developers to obtain better prices and a higher percentage of renewables.
Nearly 5 percent of Americans in over 1,300 municipalities now buy energy in this way, including several jurisdictions in California.
CCAs offer a number of benefits: cheaper rates, a “greener” power grid, opportunities to source electricity locally, and the ability to create a stable, long-term power supply system that remains under local control rather than being operated for the benefit of long distance investors.
It’s also a very safe investment for local governments, since there’s typically a 20 to 30 percent spread or “margin” between the wholesale and retail price of electric power.
After providing for a 5 percent rate decrease and allocating another 5 percent to run the program, 10 to 20 percent is left to build up a reserve fund, develop new local renewable power sources, and subsidize energy efficiency projects in new and existing buildings. Such a substantial margin allows startup costs to be repaid very quickly, and reserves accumulate at a rate several times higher than the original investment.
To cite one nearby example, Sonoma Clean Power’s initial investment of $2 million was paid off after less than a year’s operation, and annual profits of $12 million are now flowing into the system. Furthermore, if several local governments collaborate to operate a CCA under a joint powers authority (JPA), any debt liability is backed entirely by anticipated revenues, with zero risk to the general fund.
Forum explores proposal for new power agency, May 29, 2015
Clean energy, self-reliance, stable utility rates, consumer choice, market competition, local jobs and increased accountability — it reads like a fairy tale when discussing utilities, but for supporters of Community Choice Aggregation it’s the reality of a municipal power agency.
Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) allows municipalities to establish locally owned power companies that provide customers with the ability to choose a rate plan that correlates to the percentage of their energy generated by renewable sources. Marin and Sonoma counties have already established CCAs following the passage of a state law in 2002 that made such actions possible. CCA customers in those counties are paying lower rates than customers of the traditional power agency while generating substantial power from entirely renewable resources and returning money back to the local economy.
Santa Monicans have an opportunity to learn about the local push to establish a Los Angeles-area CCA this Sunday when Climate Action Santa Monica (CASM) will hold a presentation on the proposal.
With the help of a team of Master of Public Administration students from the USC Price School of Public Policy, the city of Torrance has taken the first step toward securing a greener, more cost-effective electricity supply.
The students undertook the project as part of the MPA capstone course, which offers the opportunity to engage in field work for public agencies and nonprofits.
In their report, students Nicholas Armour, David Kong, Adam Montgomery and Qian Yang explored the feasibility of Torrance either joining or starting a “Community Choice Aggregation.” These CCAs enable cities, counties or regions to purchase or produce their own renewable energy, which is then delivered by a traditional utility company that maintains the power grid and bills the customers. The team’s report won the Haynes Award for outstanding capstone project in May.
Green Power Independence, May 28, 2015
Residents of Santa Monica and other Los Angeles County cities may soon be able to bypass private power suppliers and plug into a publicly managed renewable energy network.
Under a public power program currently being explored by local officials, cities would contract with wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower and other green energy producers to provide electricity directly to local homes and businesses.
Called Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), it’s a framework that would largely replace electricity generated by private utilities with renewable energy delivered over the same transmission lines — and possibly at lower prices.
“Typically, it’s an opt-out system. Everybody would be in unless you say, ‘I want to stay with Southern California Edison,’” said Dean Kubani, who heads up the city of Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment.
Supervisors consider community choice aggregation program to reduce power costs for county residents, businesses, MAY 25 2015
LAKEPORT, Calif. – On Tuesday the Board of Supervisors is set to consider a contract with a Windsor-based firm to provide a program that would allow the county to save residents money on power costs while increasing the mix of renewable and green power that’s used locally.
The agreement with California Clean Power Corp. is timed for 9:20 a.m. during the board’s meeting on Tuesday in the board chambers on the first floor of the Lake County Courthouse, 255 N. Forbes St., Lakeport.
California Clean Power Corp., http://cacleanpower.com/ , is offering the county community choice aggregation services. Community choice aggregation, which was set up under state law, allows jurisdictions like counties and cities to purchase or generate electricity for businesses and residents, while power continues to be delivered through existing utility systems by investor-owned utilities like Pacific Gas and Electric.
Last week, the board heard a presentation by Peter Rumble, chief executive officer of California Clean Power Corp., on the proposal. The discussion starts two hours and 47 minutes into the video shown above.
Marin Clean Energy focused on promoting local power projects as it celebrates its fifth service year, May 9, 2015
Marin Clean Energy officials are highlighting the joint power authority’s efforts to stimulate the creation of local renewable energy projects and local jobs as the authority celebrates its fifth year and the opening of its new San Rafael headquarters.
“Survival of the agency is no longer at issue,” said Marin County Supervisor Damon Connolly, a Marin Clean Energy board member. “The debate has changed; now it’s about continuing to meet goals and benchmarks that we set for ourselves.”
Marin Clean Energy is the first successful attempt in California to launch a new, public model for providing electricity to residents. It was founded to jump-start the use of renewable energy sources by stimulating demand; it offers customers the opportunity to buy electricity that is supplied by 50 to 100 percent renewable sources. It competes with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. as a retailer of electricity, but PG&E continues to maintain power lines and other electrical power infrastructure.
The City of Lancaster, California (US), has selected Direct Energy Business as the electric service provider for its new Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) power program. Phase one of the program launches today. Lancaster’s agreement with Direct Energy Business includes robust renewable energy options, as well as fixed energy prices that are three percent below Southern California Edison’s standard fees.
The program, Lancaster Choice Energy, includes two offers: Clear Choice, a 35% renewable energy product, and Smart Choice, which provides 100% renewable energy at an additional cost.
The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will consider getting into the business of selling electricity to residents at its Tuesday meeting.
The board will discuss forming a Community Choice Aggregation, which allows local governments to purchase electricity wholesale from any source and then sell it to residents, businesses and public facilities. As the primary goal of a CCA is to serve its constituents rather than increasing profits, the forming of a CCA could lead to cheaper electricity for residents, according to a staff report. The CCA could just serve unincorporated areas of the county or expand to serve some combination of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties.
Should the board decide to form a CCA, the first step would be doing a feasibility study. According to a staff report, this phase would require between two to four full-time employees and cost about $1.3 million to $2 million. The CCA could potentially be funded by the county’s general fund, a loan from a bank or a grant from a foundation.
Santa Monica hosting climate action forum, May 1, 2015
Climate Action Santa Monica is arranging the first opportunity for people to attend a public forum on Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) and learn how Santa Monica in combination with other cities is working toward creating a new power authority. The new authority will ensure power in Santa Monica is mostly or all renewable at a price comparable or less than the existing power vendor.
Marin County, Sonoma County and the City of Lancaster have already formed CCAs providing guidance and a reality-based track record for new Community Choice programs coming online. Currently seven southern California cities, including Santa Monica, with more on the verge, have passed resolutions to participate in a CCA feasibility study, which is a first step in the CCA creation process. Giving a big boost to the effort, Los Angeles County Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Don Knabe co-sponsored a motion passed in March by the Board of Supervisors authorizing $150,000 in funding for the study.
Featured speakers at the forum include Joe Galliani and Shawn Marshall, both heavily involved with CCA’s. Shawn with Lean Energy USA was integral in the forming of Marin’s CCA and Joe is the lead organizer of the South Bay Clean Power Working Group, the volunteer citizen group working on bringing clean energy to Santa Monica and other Southern California cities.
Palos Verdes Estates signs up for renewable energy program, April 29, 2015
Palos Verdes Estates is the latest South Bay city to pledge support for a program that would let residents choose what kind of energy powers their electricity.
On Tuesday, the City Council voted unanimously to join Carson, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance and Beverly Hills to be in a joint powers authority if the county decides to initiate a program giving customers options for how much of their electricity will come from renewable energy sources.
Members of South Bay Clean Power, the working group soliciting interest from cities, said Palos Verdes Estates residents still would get their electricity bills from Southern California Edison and their power would still be transmitted along SCE wires. They said two such programs in Marin and Sonoma counties have significantly reduced carbon emissions there.
Campbell: City looking into community choice aggregation, April 29, 2015
The city of Campbell reportedly was set to deliver a signed resolution to Sunnyvale before April 30 agreeing to participate in a feasibility study for a plan that could bring more choices when bringing power to the city.
Campbell along with the cities and towns of Los Altos, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Milpitas and many others are investigating the possibility of forming a Community Choice Aggregation in the South Bay. Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Mountain View and unincorporated parts of the Santa Clara County are currently partner cities that are discussing the risks, opportunities and costs associated with having new cities join.
The communities formed would have the option to purchase electricity from developers and competitive alternative-energy suppliers. PG&E would still continue to deliver power and customer billing, according to staff’s report. If customers do not want to participate, there is an opt-out option.
Renewable energy program CEOs make their pitch to Davis, April 24, 2015
For Community Choice Energy program members in Marin, Sonoma, Contra Costa and Napa Counties, it can be lonely out there.
Intermittent threats from the legislature happen when bills pushed by Pacific Gas & Electric-supported groups seek to sidestep rules that prohibit investor-owned utilities like PG&E from directly taking on CCEs and make it harder for CCEs to form, expand and do business.
What’s a program that pushes more green energy generation and local control of energy selection to do? Help other communities become CCEs or become part of existing CCEs to make the programs more numerous and therefore raise their profile. Hopefully, the theory goes, the legislature will be even more supportive that way.
City of SLO to look into buying power from renewable sources, April 1, 2015
San Luis Obispo leaders this week indicated interest in exploring a program that allows communities to purchase alternative power supplies for their customers rather than the local utility’s mix of energy sources.
Known as community choice aggregation, the program allows cities or counties to pool the electricity demand of residential and business customers and focus on carbon-free renewable power sources such as wind or solar, according to San Luis Obispo officials.
“I’m excited about this concept for our community,” Councilman Dan Rivoire said. “I’m excited about the idea of introducing competition into our local marketplace, excited about the potential for savings for local residents and the extent to which our community could drive change on the types of energy that is produced in our state.”
The San Luis Obispo City Council unanimously passed a resolution at its regular meeting Tuesday in support of exploring a community choice aggregation program with other interested municipalities such as other local cities and San Luis Obispo County.
Sonoma Clean Power: Starting Strong in 2015, March 19, 2015
The Sonoma County Water Agency identified these ponds as ideal sites for a ‘flotovoltaic’ system because of the low-impact they will have on the surrounding environment.
Geof Syphers, CEO of Sonoma Clean Power, declared this solar system to be the “first triple win” for SCP because it hits three primary objectives –supporting lower customer rates, built in Sonoma County, with 100% renewable power.
In other exciting news, customer participation in Sonoma Clean Power is higher than expected. The original projection was for 80 percent participation; in other words, that 20 percent of customers would choose PG&E. Instead, the participation rate is currently 89 percent, equal to about 156,000 accounts. Increased participation leads to an increase in sale revenues and an increase in cost savings to customers.
L.A. County considers regional contract to buy electricity, March 17, 2015
LOS ANGELES >> The Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to study an option for buying electricity designed to increase access to clean and renewable energy sources.
Developing what is called a community choice aggregation program would allow Los Angeles County to join with cities and other counties to buy alternative electrical energy as a group, while keeping transmission and distribution services from existing electrical utilities in place.
“Los Angeles County has been a leader in developing programs that give residents and businesses greater access to clean and renewable energy sources,” Supervisor Don Knabe said. “This program has the potential to revolutionize the way energy is provided to cities and communities throughout the region, creating competition that drives down costs and helps protect the environment.”
The cities of Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Cupertino and the County of Santa Clara are working together on a feasibility study for Community Choice Energy. This approach is a hybrid between a public and private utility, which will bring new competition to the energy market in these communities. With CCE, a local agency decides how to procure or develop energy and the investor owned utility (PG&E in these communities) continues to maintain the power lines and does the billing.
These governments are interested in the CCE approach because they see it as the most powerful way to reduce their green house gas emissions in keeping with their Climate Action Plans. There are two existing CCE programs in California in Marin and Sonoma counties and both have used the program to dramatically increase the renewable energy in their portfolios.
How can communities take control of their power mix? Who should own and control power generation assets in the 21st century? In the U.S., the landscape is dominated by investor-owned utilities — private entities that serve customers in order to generate a profit for shareholders. This model has worked pretty well for decades now — but it’s far from a perfect model.
In the U.S. today there are also many publicly owned utilities (these are government agencies) and co-operatives, which are private but are not operated to achieve a profit for shareholders, as investor-owned utilities are. Co-ops are designed to provide power to areas where the investor-owned utilities dare not tread because it’s not clear that the effort would be profitable.
There is a new kid in town, however, known as community choice aggregation. CCA is a middle ground between full private utility control and full public control of power. Rather than controlling the entire power grid, as is the case in Los Angeles or Sacramento (areas controlled by the two biggest public utilities in California), CCA allows a city or a county to choose what type of power its citizens get and from where. The private utility continues to control the power lines and bill customers, so utility profit potential is preserved — but the control over power choices shifts to the CCA entity known as a “community choice aggregator.”
Marin Clean Energy (MCE) is about to celebrate its fifth anniversary. The success of the alternative power agency continues to trigger paroxysms of consternation among its critics.
The energy agency began supplying power to Marin residents in May of 2010. Critics of public power agencies, dubbed community choice aggregators, attacked the concept in general—and Marin Clean Energy in particular—in an attempt to prevent the Marin power agency from becoming the first community choice aggregator to operate in California.
Paul Fenn, a former Marin resident, wrote the legislation that allowed communities to choose where they buy their power. The legislation mandated that community choice aggregators could form their own power agencies and buy power from wherever they chose rather than from the investor-owned utilities in California. The legislation, AB 117, became law in 2002. It took until 2010 before a community choice aggregator formed and started operating a power agency. That was MCE.
The Marin Energy Authority (MEA) is the joint powers agency that took on the administrative role for MCE. Former Marin County Supervisor Charles McGlashan championed the cause of creation for MCE and was an igniting spark until his untimely death. The goal McGlashan wanted for MCE was to meet or beat the rates that PG&E charged. That, and striving toward providing as clean and as renewable an energy product as possible, would be the foundation of success for MCE, McGlashan often said.
We have a long history of investigating and pursuing the possibility of public power in Davis. From a vote to join the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which passed overwhelmingly in Davis but failed in the rest of Yolo County in 2006, to City Council direction to pursue and study a “community choice aggregation” approach in 2012, as well as the possible formation of a publicly owned utility in 2013 and 2014, various options and opportunities have been explored and vetted.
Building upon this history of learning and assessment, at our Feb. 3 meeting, the Davis City Council established the Community Choice Energy Advisory Committee to determine specific options for developing a community choice energy (CCE — formerly known as CCA) program in Davis. The goal of this effort is to delineate exactly how we might go about developing a CCE for Davis and to make recommendations to the council concerning if and how to proceed.
Sonoma Clean Power inks deal for floating solar panel project, February 26, 2015
Sonoma County’s new public electricity supplier is turning to the sun and water — the airspace over treated sewage ponds, specifically — to generate power for local homes and businesses.
Under a deal signed Thursday with a San Francisco-based renewable energy developer, officials with Sonoma Clean Power, now the default electricity provider in Sonoma County, unveiled a plan to install a 12.5-megawatt solar farm on floating docks atop holding ponds operated by the county Water Agency.
When completed in 2016, the project, which will provide enough electricity to power 3,000 homes, will be the largest solar installation in the county.
It also will help fulfill one of Sonoma Clean Power’s central goals — to develop local sources of renewable energy for its expanding customer base, now taking in more than 160,000 residential and commercial accounts across five cities in the county.
Powering up for alternative energy options, February 26, 2015
Supporting renewable energy and providing cheaper power continue to fuel the city of Arcata’s interest in purchasing and re-selling electricity to its residents. Becoming a Community Choice Aggregation — or CCA — has been under discussion since at least 2007.
While the city of Arcata’s size is impractical for purchasing electricity on its own, city leaders are contemplating joining Sonoma Clean Power, a CCA that began providing power last year to the residents of Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Windsor, Cotati, Sebastopol and Cloverdale under the auspices of the county of Sonoma. The concept, Arcata City Manager Karen Diemer said, is aligned with a city goal of energy resiliency.
Under CCAs — allowed in California with legislation in 2002 — public power agencies purchase electricity from sources of their choice and sell that power to customers in the affected area while the existing power company delivers the power. Residents in the area have the right to opt out and remain with the current power provider when the CCA is established.
California communities seize control of their energy futures, by Dave Roberts, February 25, 2015
An energy revolution is breaking out in California and a few other states, one that could radically increase the amount of renewable energy available to citizens and end the tyranny of foot-dragging utilities. Outside of the rapidly falling costs of solar power, it’s just about my main source of domestic optimism these days.
I’m talking about community choice, or, in the horrid legalese, “community choice aggregation.” I’ve discussed it before in passing, but it’s starting to seriously catch on, so I want to take a closer look.
Say a town, city, or county is dissatisfied with the power it gets from its utility — it’s too expensive, or too dirty. One option would be for each municipality to leave its utility and form its own “municipal utility.” That has its advantages, but it’s a pretty huge step, since the municipality would have to take over not only power procurement but grid operation and maintenance, billing, customer service, etc. In many smaller towns, it’s not practical.
The other, emerging option is community choice aggregation, whereby a county or municipality takes over only the job of buying and selling power, leaving grid management and billing to the utility. It aggregates customers from every participating city, town, and county and uses their collective purchasing power to procure exactly the kind of electricity it wants.
San Mateo County clean energy plan moves ahead, February 25, 2015
A joint venture to buy clean energy in bulk called Community Choice Aggregation was given the green light Tuesday by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, which approved spending $300,000 for the program.
The Office of Sustainability will use the money to complete the first phase of a three-phased project to form the program.
Currently, half of the county’s 20 cities have passed resolutions to participate in a process that would ultimately result in the formation of a joint powers authority to act as an independent nonprofit to buy clean energy such as solar or wind using Pacific Gas and Electric’s infrastructure.
The other 10 cities in the county have either agendized the item or provided verbal confirmation to participate, said Jim Eggemeyer with the Office of Sustainability.
Cities are now collecting data on megawatt hours and peak demand levels from its electricity users.
There are currently three of the aggregation programs operating in the state now including Marin Clean Energy and Sonoma Clean Energy. A third, Lancaster Choice Energy in Los Angeles County will start in spring.
Supervisors to call for study on countywide clean-energy plan, February 17, 2015
The cities of San Mateo County would have the option of banding together to sell cleaner energy to their ratepayers under a community-choice aggregation plan advocated by county supervisors Dave Pine and Carole Groom.
Under the program, Peninsula cities would use their collective purchasing power to provide electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar, at potentially lower rates than PG&E’s.
Pine and Groom plan to ask the Board of Supervisors to approve funds for a technical feasibility study at its Feb. 24 meeting, and more than half of the cities on the Peninsula have already agreed to participate in the proposed study by giving the county access to their energy usage data, according to Pine.
Fact Check: Community Choice Lowers Energy Rates, February 17, 2015
Statement: “It’s been incredible to watch the outcome of the programs in Sonoma and Marin because they’ve been extremely successful and they’ve been able to provide lower rates to all residences and all businesses in Marin and Sonoma with a higher renewable energy content,” Climate Action Campaign executive director Nicole Capretz said during a Jan. 25 appearance on NBC San Diego’s “Politically Speaking.”
Analysis: A handful of California communities have opted to stop relying solely on utilities to buy energy. San Diego environmentalists want that option to exist here.
A Breakthrough For Community Choice: In San Francisco & All of California, February 17, 2015
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s surprise announcement last month rocked the Community Choice movement in a good way. In a turnabout, Mayor Lee now supports moving forward with CleanPowerSF, the emerging Community Choice program in San Francisco.
The breakthrough is significant for statewide Community Choice efforts. Progress in San Francisco, the largest local government set to launch Community Choice, will likely encourage other cities and counties to initiate or accelerate efforts too.
Moreover, San Francisco can demonstrate the viability of a revenue-bonding model for renewable energy development. Because San Francisco will operate CleanPowerSF as a single entity, not a joint powers authority, the opportunity for revenue bonding to build generation assets is likely to occur sooner.
City Council of Pacifica supports Community Choice Aggregation program, February 17, 2015
City Council unanimously approved during its last meeting to participate in a feasibility study for a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) Program for San Mateo County.
Hearings planned on PUC, Edison roles in San Onofre settlement, February 17, 2015
A key lawmaker is jumping into controversy at the Public Utilities Commission over cronyism and improper contacts between power companies and regulators — and this time it also involves the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant.
Assemblyman Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), chairman of the powerful Utilities and Commerce Committee, plans to hold oversight hearings, beginning next month, into allegations of wrongdoing at the 1,000-person PUC.
“It’s alarming and something we need to take a look at,” he said. “We’re going to do a thorough investigation and try to get to the bottom of things.”
Until recently, much of the PUC criticism has involved ties with the state’s largest utility, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric Co. But now scrutiny is being drawn to Southern California Edison in Rosemead, which owns the nuclear plant along with San Diego Gas & Electric Co.
PG&E still fights community power, February 1, 2015
The city of Davis’ small solar power plant is not much to look at. Rows of panels are arrayed on 20 acres behind a cyclone fence on Road 102 north of town. Some quirky individual has pinned a stuffed floppy-eared toy rabbit on a post outside the fence.
Though the solar panels power City Hall, the plant is underused and a testament to Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s bull-headed opposition to communities that try to offer alternative ways for residents to purchase and distribute power.
Davis is one of roughly 30 cities across California seeking to get out from under the thumb of private utilities, while ensuring that the utilities receive reimbursement for the cost of operating the massive power grid upon which we all depend.
You might think PG&E executives would have more pressing worries than to fret over what is known as community choice aggregation.
Community Choice emerges as a promising clean power policy in California as Petaluma joins Sonoma Clean Power in a unanimous vote of confidence, January 30, 2015
At its city council meeting in the closing days of 2014, Petaluma California voted unanimously to participate in the newly formed Community Choice energy program, Sonoma Clean Power. The vote has implications far wider than just those for the constituents of Petaluma or the stakeholders of Sonoma Clean Power.
Petaluma was the final eligible city in the County of Sonoma to vote to join. More than any other city, Petaluma scrutinized Sonoma Clean Power in a lengthy process with a skeptical eye, questioning the overall viability of the enterprise, evaluating alternative options, and investigating concerns about rates, risk, and ratepayer protection, among other things.
The YES vote in Petaluma represents a resounding vote of confidence for Sonoma Clean Power after a process that mirrored what occurred in Marin County with Marin Clean Energy three years earlier. Most cities voted to participate in the first round but in the case of Marin, four held out for a year and then joined after they got a closer look and liked what they saw.
San Francisco mayor calls for community choice aggregation program, January 28, 2015
- San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has directed the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to create a community choice aggregation program to offer renewable energy throughout the city, reversing his earlier stance against competing with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). PG&E would retain the transmission and distribution system and deliver the renewables-generated electricity.
- Lee stipulated the program must provide for significant local job creation, be municipally owned and located, have PG&E-competitive rates, and protect low-income residents, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
- The new plan is expected to be similar to Marin County’s two-tiered program which automatically enrolls customers in a 50% renewables plan and gives them the option of a 100% renewables plan.
In his Climate Action Plan, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer committed the city to getting 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2035.
Leaders of a newly-formed nonprofit called Climate Action Campaign are arguing the best way to reach that goal is through something called community choice aggregation.
Community choice aggregation, or CCA, means the city could buy energy for its residents instead of going through the utility SDG&E. That would give the city more control over where its energy comes from.
Nicole Capretz, the head of the Climate Action Campaign, said that would allow the city to shift to more renewable sources.
Marin Clean Energy beating PG&E on price, January 16, 2015
Marin Clean Energy’s prices for electricity remain lower than Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s with a PG&E rate hike this month.
The bill for a typical PG&E residential customer using 500 kilowatt hours of electricity per month increased about 6 percent — an additional cost of a little more than $5 per month.
Jonathan Marshall, a PG&E spokesman, said the increase in electric rates that took effect Jan. 1 was “driven by improvements in our electric distribution and generation system, introducing more smart-grid technology into our system to reduce the severity and frequency of outages.”
A typical residential customer of Marin Clean Energy pays $86.92 per month, $3.06 less than a similar PG&E customer, according to figures supplied by Marin Clean Energy and acknowledged by PG&E. An average commercial customer of MCE, using 1,550 kilowatt hours of electricity per month, pays $259.43, which is $6.46 less than a similar PG&E customer.
Sonoma Clean Power expands board, adopts revised startup plan, January 8, 2015
Sonoma County’s public electricity supplier, Sonoma Clean Power, marked the beginning of its first full calendar year of operations Thursday with a newly expanded board to accommodate three more participating cities and a financial outlook that projects the agency to have nearly $45 million in reserves after four years.
Supervisor Susan Gorin, the outgoing chairwoman of the power agency board, summed up the past year, in which the agency began serving 160,000 Sonoma County power customers and persuaded all eligible cities to join after some tough political wrangling.
“It’s a new era for Sonoma Clean Power,” said Gorin, who will remain a board member. “It is so exciting now that we have all of our cities joining us.”
Healdsburg, which has its own municipal utility, is not eligible to participate in the agency.
The Petaluma City Council on Monday voted unanimously to join Sonoma Clean Power, becoming the last Sonoma County city to take part in the startup public electricity agency.
The 33,400 Petaluma electric customers will be enrolled in the program next summer, at the same time as Rohnert Park and Cloverdale. The three cities sat out the initial launch of Sonoma Clean Power, which began serving customers in May.
Sonoma Clean Power officials attending the meeting said it was important to earn Petaluma’s membership. “We’ve been working towards this day for the past two years,” said Supervisor Susan Gorin, chairwoman of the Sonoma Clean Power board. “We saw it as a goal to ensure that all residents of Sonoma County could be served by Sonoma Clean Power.”
Rohnert Park joins Sonoma Clean Power, November 25, 2014
In a tense, 3-2 City Council vote, Rohnert Park on Tuesday joined Sonoma Clean Power, becoming the seventh city in Sonoma County to sign on to the startup electricity provider.
The agency, which began supplying power to Sonoma County customers in May, will begin serving Rohnert Park’s 18,000 eligible utility accounts starting next summer.
“It feels great. We’re happy to be able to serve the city of Rohnert Park,” said Geof Syphers, CEO of Sonoma Clean Power. The agency is now the default power provider for the unincorporated areas of the county and all of its cities except Healdsburg, which has its own municipal electric utility, and Petaluma, which is expected to take up the issue next month.
The public agency offers electric rates it says are about 4 to 5 percent lower than PG&E’s. Rohnert Park’s residents, businesses and the city government stand to save approximately $530,000 per year on electric bills, according to a city staff report.
EL CERRITO — The City Council is enthusiastically embracing a plan that would allow electricity customers to choose how much of their power they would receive from renewable sources. The plan, commonly referred to as “community choice aggregation” and provided locally by San Rafael-based Marin Clean Energy, would begin next year.
It would allow PG&E residential and commercial customers to buy either 50 or 100 percent of their electricity from sources such as biogas, biomass, geothermal, hydro, solar or wind energy. Customers could also elect to stay with PG&E, which derives 22 percent of its electricity from renewables.
Upon approval by your Board, the Office of Sustainability would initiate the proposed next steps to further explore the feasibility of a CCA in San Mateo County. These steps will be executed by Office of Sustainability staff with the support of LEAN Energy US. The first step is a focused outreach effort to educate and engage staff, City Managers, and City Councils about CCA. This may entail: a) presenting a CCA overview to the County of San Mateo Council of Cities, City Manager’s Association, or other collaborative organizations, b) holding workshops that provide a more detailed framework about CCA, and/or c) individually contacting city staff and elected officials. The outreach step will ensure all cities in the County have a basic understanding of CCA so they can make an educated decision on any future commitments to CCA efforts.
The second step is to prepare a workplan, timeline, and budget for Phase I of the CCA development process (see above). At a future meeting your Board would make a decision on whether to proceed with Phase I, which would include a technical feasibility study and expenditures of up to $500,000. A comprehensive technical feasibility study would require a resolution of support and authorization to obtain load data from the incorporated cities.
Sonoma Clean Power Signs Two Landmark Clean Power Deals – October 22, 2014
(Santa Rosa, CA) Less than six months after beginning to serve customers, Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) reached another milestone today with two large-scale purchases of clean geothermal and solar power. The new power agency’s rates are already 4 to 5% lower than PG&E’s rates today, and these deals will help the new power agency keep its rates lower into the future.
Sonoma Clean Power provides electric generation service to customers in most of Sonoma County. Currently over 22,000 customer accounts are receiving service and starting in December an additional 140,000 customer accounts will be eligible to receive SCP’s cleaner mix of power. All cities are participating in the program with the exception of Petaluma and Rohnert Park, where a vote on whether to allow participation in SCP will be taken by January 31, 2015. Healdsburg has its own municipal utility, and is not a part of SCP.
‘Community Choice Energy’ has potential to expand renewables – October 6, 2014
“No money down” financing has made installing solar much easier for many property owners. But for every customer with a good credit score and south facing roof, there are many others without such advantages. Enter Community Choice Energy. It promises to overcome barriers to renewable energy development while modernizing and decentralizing the electricity system.
California’s first and second Community Choice programs, Marin Clean Energy and Sonoma Clean Power, offer cleaner power and lower rates. Sonoma Clean Power estimates that in 2014 alone more than $6 million will stay in the local economy because of their favorable power procurement.
The success of these two Community Choice programs has inspired communities up and down the state. Currently San Diego, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Alameda, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Lancaster, among others, are seriously exploring starting Community Choice programs because it is the most cost-effective, powerful tool under local control to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Editorial: Marin Clean Energy solar plan fulfills promise – Sept 13, 2014
Marin Clean Energy was founded with an overriding environmental goal of reducing Marin’s greenhouse gases by increasing market demand for renewable energy. The agency’s new agreement with Chevron is another step in that direction.
Google invests $145 million in Kern County solar project – Sept. 11, 2014
Google Inc. is investing $145 million in a solar power plant on a former oil and gas field near Bakersfield.
The 82-megawatt project will feed enough power to the grid for 10,000 homes, Google said. It is expected to bring 650 jobs to Kern County.
“Our investment in the Regulus solar project will give new life to a long-valued piece of land,” Nick Coons, principal for renewable energy at Google, wrote on the company’s blog Wednesday. “There’s something a little poetic about creating a renewable resource on land that once creaked with oil wells.”
Marin Clean Energy’s board of directors has approved a plan to lease land from Chevron for the creation of a large solar power project in Richmond.
The board Thursday also approved the purchase of electricity from a wind farm in Kern County that will reduce Marin Clean Energy’s need to purchase unbundled renewable energy credits. And the board gave the green light for analysis to begin to determine if the city of El Cerrito should be allowed to join Marin Clean Energy’s joint powers authority.
Chevron has agreed to lease Marin Clean Energy a 60-acre brownfield site for 25 years — with one five-year extension option — at a cost of just $1 per year. The property is the site of a former fertilizer plant’s product ponds and a waste management landfill site.
Editorial: Cheaper, greener power a better strategy – Sept. 6, 2014
The latest political power play by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to curtail the growth — and competition — from community-based public power agencies wound up stalled in the state Senate.
PG&E, instead of trying to change the rules by state proposition or legislation, should alter its strategy by offering electricity that’s greener and cheaper than its competition.
California private power corporations’ latest maneuver was a bill that sought to change the rules for the formation and expansion of “Community Choice Aggregation” agencies, such as our homegrown Marin Clean Energy.
MCE Power Purchase Deal With New California Wind Project Achieves 33% Renewable Energy Content For MCE Five Years Ahead of Schedule – Sept. 5, 2017
This week Marin Clean Energy (MCE) announced that it is five years ahead of schedule in achieving its goal of providing 33% California Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) qualified renewable energy by 2020. MCE is proud to reach this milestone and provide power choice for Marin residents, businesses, and municipal buildings. Through this purchase Marin Clean Energy expects to reach 29% RPS qualified content for 2014 and then maintain a minimum of 33% RPS qualified content through 2020. In addition to its California RPS content, Marin provides additional Green‐e certified renewable power for a total renewable content of 53%, more than double the renewable content of the incumbent utility, PG&E.
California’s “Monopoly Protection Act,” AB 2145, Is Dead – Sept 4, 2014
California’s monopoly utilities failed in what many perceive as their latest attempt to squash community choice aggregates. Assemblyman Steven Bradford could not find a senator willing to sponsor his controversial bill, so it expired when the legislature’s current session ended, at 3 am on Saturday morning. California’s “Monopoly Protection Act,” AB 2145, is dead.
“The fact that the bill found not a single senator to sponsor it is indicative of how impulsive and how self-serving it was to the investor owned monopolies of the state of California,” said Lane Sharman, Executive Director of San Diego Energy District Foundation. “The failure of this bill is a call to action for every community in California to start the CCA (Community Choice Aggregate) formation process and to get it done before the next awful bill like this comes before the state of California.”
Sonoma County, which enticed Americans to forsake factory-made food for artisan wines and farmers market produce, now wants consumers to reconsider another everyday commodity.
New on the menu: locally curated energy.
The county is at the forefront among eco-minded communities plunging into the power business nationwide.
Impatient with the pace at which states and the federal government are confronting climate change, communities from the coast of Massachusetts, Cincinnati, Chicago and Boulder, Colo., have begun taking steps to elbow aside big electricity companies and find green power themselves.
Sonoma County now offers tens of thousands of ratepayers energy that is significantly greener — and slightly cheaper — than that sold by the region’s utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. Customers who want 100% local renewable power can pay extra and get every kilowatt they use from a geothermal plant in the region’s hills.
Bill to limit clean-power agencies fails – August 30, 2014
A bill that would have limited the size of community-based power providers like Sonoma Clean Power died in the state Senate early Saturday.
Assembly Bill 2145 did not receive a vote in the Senate by the end of the legislative session. The bill would have limited the size of community choice power agencies to three contiguous counties. Sonoma Clean Power became the second such public agency in the state when it began serving customers in May.
An earlier version of AB 2145, which was supported by PG&E and a union of electrical workers, contained a provision that would have required potential customers to opt in to join the program. That provision was removed as the bill advanced through the legislative process.
AB 2145 Attack On Local Energy Choice Defeated by Consumer & Clean Energy Advocates – August 30, 2014
In an extraordinary legislative upset, David beat Goliath in Sacramento when Senator Darrell Steinberg brought down the gavel this morning at 3:00 a.m. to close the 2013-14 legislative session, with no vote on Assembly Bill 2145. AB 2145, the proposed law aimed at crushing locally based clean energy efforts known as Community Choice energy programs in California, is officially dead.
The newly emerged statewide coalition, Californians for Energy Choice, pushed back the monopoly electrical utilities’ latest attempt to deeply undermine competition from these emerging local programs. Previously, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) spent over $46 million in 2010 pushing Proposition 16, a ballot measure that would have ended Community Choice in California. Voters soundly defeated the measure. Organizers who fought against Prop 16, joined with scores of new activists to help form the new coalition.
Cloverdale votes to join Sonoma Clean Power – July 23, 2014
Cloverdale on Wednesday became the sixth city to join Sonoma Clean Power, perhaps unwittingly forcing the departure of embattled Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo from the power agency’s board of directors.
Cloverdale City Council members, who a year ago had balked at joining the new venture, said they had overcome initial reservations, and unanimously supported the move.
“How can I say ‘no?’ ” said Mayor Carol Russell, saying Sonoma Clean Power offered cleaner power and a rate reduction.
Council members said repeatedly their vote boiled down to “choice” for residents and businesses, who can still remain with PG&E if they prefer.
Marin Clean Energy is continuing to grow, despite proposed state legislation that could place limits on that growth.
Marin Clean Energy, the first successful attempt in California to launch a new, public model for providing electricity to residents, recently added its second member located outside of Marin County, the county of Napa. The local energy authority’s board has also granted its approval to add the city of San Pablo, whose council is expected to vote in August on whether to make the move.
The cities of Benicia and El Cerrito also have asked MCE to consider the feasibility of adding them as members. Even cities as large as Santa Barbara and San Francisco have flirted with the idea of joining MCE.
Sonoma Clean Power, the public electricity supplier, is moving to enroll all of the remaining customers in its jurisdiction by the end of this year, extending service to nearly 150,000 additional accounts on a much quicker time scale than the three-year rollout initially envisioned during the agency’s development.
The more aggressive timeline would take in household and commercial accounts in the five participating cities — Santa Rosa, Windsor, Cotati, Sonoma and Sebastopol — plus the unincorporated areas of the county. The move reflects what officials say is a broadening interest among prospective customers in the power program and an optimistic outlook within the agency about expanding the scale of its launch.
Utilities to battery-powered solar: Get off our lawn – July 11, 2014
In Wisconsin, utilities are jacking up the price to connect to their electrical grid. In Oklahoma, utilities pushed through a law this springthat allows them to charge the people who own solar panels and wind turbines more to connect to their electrical grid. In Arizona, the state has decided to charge extra property taxes to households that are leasing solar panels.
Boulder’s New Utility Expected to Electrify the Town in 2015 – July 9, 2014
At a PLAN-Boulder County forum on Friday, June 13, about the status of Boulder’s municipalization efforts, City Attorney Tom Carr estimated that the city will probably be able to start operating an electric utility by October or November of 2015.
Carr noted that the Boulder City Council passed an ordinance on August 13, 2013, to authorize condemnation of Xcel’s local electrical distribution facilities and that on May 6, 2014, it adopted another ordinance forming a municipal, electrical utility. Carr said that on June 10 the city had tendered a final offer of $128 million for those facilities, which, he observed, exceeded their book value.
Novato solar farm gets unanimous approval – June 23, 2014
A proposed Novato solar project capable of powering 500 Marin homes — the largest such installation in the county — won unanimous approval from the Marin County Planning Commission Monday.
On a 7-0 vote, the commission approved the permit for a solar installation proposed by Crawford Cooley and Beverly Potter on their property, a former rock quarry in an isolated area just outside Novato. Nine people, including representatives of Sustainable Novato, the Marin Conservation League and a local union, spoke in favor of the project, and an Audubon Society representative voiced concerns but did not directly oppose the project.
Sonoma Clean Power inks deal for 30MW solar project – June 16, 2014
(Santa Rosa, CA) Sonoma Clean Power (SCP), Sonoma County’s new electricity supplier, signed an agreement today with leading North American solar project developer Recurrent Energy, to construct 30 megawatts (MW) of solar power in California, and to supply the energy to SCP customers. “This 20-year deal secures pricing that helps Sonoma Clean Power maintain its low costs and deliver further reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” offered Supervisor Susan Gorin, Chair of the SCP Board of Directors.
By Juan Matute, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
A team of students from the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability’s Environmental Science Practicum worked with the City of Hermosa Beach, researching options to decarbonize the community’s electricity supply.
First, students looked at California’s legislatively-mandated Green Tariff Shared Renewables Program, which will allow all customers served by Southern California Edison to purchase 100% renewable electricity starting January 1, 2015. Students also looked at Community Choice Aggregation, a program used by a growing number of cities and counties to supply greater percentages of renewable electricity than provided by the local utility.
Startup energy agency could power East Bay cities – June 6, 2014
OAKLAND — Move over, PG&E, or at least prepare to share the power lines.
Alameda County is pursuing a plan to become its own energy purveyor for county residents. A new public agency would set its own customer billing rates, buy and sell its own electricity and procure its own clean power from rooftop solar panels and wind turbines along the Altamont Pass. The startup agency envisioned by environmentalists would not be the first in California, but it could be the biggest in scope and population served. That is, if state lawmakers don’t pass a bill this summer imperiling the Bay Area’s “community choice” energy movement before it can turn on the switch.
State grant to fund Central Coast power study $344,000 grant to assess community-choice agency – June 5, 2014
SANTA CRUZ >> California’s Strategic Growth Council this week awarded $344,000 to fund a study that could lead to a locally operated, community-based joint agency that would replace PG&E as the primary power provider on the Central Coast. The idea to create Monterey Bay Community Power has been floating around for more than a year. The grant represents a huge leap forward, however, kick-starting a study on whether to set up so-called community-choice aggregation, allowing local officials to be shot-callers when it comes to buying and selling energy in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties.