Capturing Local Economic Benefits from Renewables: Recommendations for Community Choice Energy Leaders

The Climate Center, September 2016

In our report “Community Choice Energy: What is the Local Economic Impact?” we describe the significant local economy and community benefits projected from substantial investment in local solar generation by Community Choice Energy agencies. The greater the amount of local solar deployment, the greater is the challenge, especially in the short term. We offer the following recommendations to help Community Choice Energy leaders reach these goals, organized by phase.

Community Choice Energy (CCE) Agency Formation and Start Up

  1. Integrate goals for total renewable energy and the portion from local sources in the agency formation document.
  2. Hire staff with project development and management experience in deploying distributed energy resources (DER), and experience managing private vendors for contract compliance.
  3. Create a detailed Integrated Resource Plan in the first year of operation. Include in the plan specific goals and benchmarks for local resource development, an assessment of generation potential, priorities at the substation level, and ways to integrate distributed energy resources to reduce costs and add value for CCE customers.
  4. Work with cities and counties to establish renewable energy codes that address issues such as permit streamlining for local renewable projects to help accelerate development.

CCE Management for Maximum Local Impact

  1. Work with private energy developers experienced in aggregating demand, and work with regulators and utilities to ensure that local projects are completed in a timely manner.
  2. Work with the investor-owned utility (IOU) to focus first on projects where the interconnection issues are likely to be the least challenging. Plan a few early projects that will contribute services back to the grid, and request the IOU to pre-approve the interconnection based on a submitted plan and design.
  3. Establish programs (potentially with incentives) that integrate multiple types of DER including storage, energy efficiency, demand response, microgrids, and electric vehicles.
  4. Participate in the California Public Utility Commission’s Distributed Energy Resources Planning process.
  5. Learn from the examples of other CCEs, public and private utilities, and municipal governments that have successful programs deploying DER.


  1. Protect the CCE’s interests by securing sufficient staff, consultant, and/or trade association (CalCCA) expertise and clout to work in state regulatory and legislative arenas.