Community Choice Aggregators have reached a new milestone in California, surpassing 200 cities and communities with service and about 28% of utility load, and the expansion is continuing with two more CCAs launching service this year.
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The number of CCA jurisdictions reached 201 on April 1 as East Bay Community Energy initiated service to Newark, Pleasanton and Tracy, and MCE initiated service to Pleasant Hill and Vallejo.
"Community choice aggregators are political subdivisions of the state that provide service to retail customers in their service areas that do not opt out," said Morris Greenberg, S&P Global Platts analytics managing director of North American power. "They must acquire sufficient generation (and ancillary services) to serve customers along with meeting RPS requirements."
Transmission and distribution, including metering and billing, services are typically provided by an investor-owned utility in whose service territory the CCA is located, Greenberg said, adding Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison are also responsible for backstop resource adequacy procurement with the CCAs paying those costs.
California, which leads the nation in installed solar capacity at 13.23 GW and also leads in battery energy capacity at 876 MW, has one of the more aggressive clean energy goals at 100% carbon-free power by 2045 with a near-term goal of 44% renewables by 2024.
CCAs are required to comply with RPS requirements as well as the California Public Utilities Commission's integrated resource planning process so they will contribute to reducing carbon intensity of power generation over time, Greenberg said.
"This latest bump in the number of communities served by CCAs is part of a wave of new service rollouts in 2021 that includes expansions by Central Coast Community Energy in January (cities of Arroyo Grande, Del Rey Oaks, Grover Beach, Guadalupe, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, Santa Maria, Solvang, and Unincorporated Santa Barbara County) and Valley Clean Energy (city of Winters), also in January," CalCCA said in a news release.
The next CCAs will be Clean Energy Alliance, launching in May in the cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar and Solana Beach, and Santa Barbara Clean Energy, launching in October in the city of Santa Barbara.
The California Public Utilities Commission officially certified the Clean Energy Alliance Community Choice Energy Implementation Plan in mid-March, signifying progress toward a Community Choice Energy program in the cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar and Solana Beach, San Diego's North County region, according to a CEA news release.
The Santa Barbara City Council voted in October 2019 to move forward with implementing Santa Barbara Clean Energy and start serving customers in October 2021, according to the City of Santa Barbara. The move will allow customers to stay with SBCE's 100% renewable electricity, opt-down to 50% renewables at the same rate they were paying SCE, or opt-out and return to SCE.
"CCAs can offer customers an alternative portfolio of resources, typically cleaner, and attempt to provide this at a lower cost, though the jury is still out over whether this is feasible over the long haul," Greenberg said, adding assuming they make good procurement decisions they will continue to grow and account for a majority or retail electricity sales in the state.
MCE launched the first operation CCA program in Marin County in 2010.
"Over the last decade, local governments in cities and counties throughout the state have chosen to participate in CCA to meet climate action goals, provide residents and businesses with more energy options, ensure local transparency and accountability, and drive economic development and green jobs," according to CalCCA.
There are 24 community choice energy providers serving more than 11 million customers in 201 towns, cities and counties across the state, with other communities planning to launch CCA programs.
Community choice energy programs now serve about 28% of the load in the territories of the state's three main investor-owned utilities, which is projected to rise to 38% by 2022, according to Cal CCA.
CalCCA members are projected to have an annual load of 52,098 GWh in 2021, which is an 865% jump from 2016 levels and a 6.6% increase year on year, according to CalCCA data from December.
CCA have signed long-term power purchase agreements for more than 600 MW of new clean generation capacity, according to Cal CCA.