Community Choice Aggregation, also known as Community Choice Energy or CCA, is a program enabled by state law that allows local governments to buy electricity at competitive rates on behalf of their residents and businesses, giving community members a choice in where their energy is sourced from. The investor-owned utility (in Stockton, that’s PG&E) still owns the transmission and distribution grid infrastructure – the poles and wires – and delivers the electricity procured by the CCA to its customers. Many of the 23 existing Community Choice agencies in California, governed by boards made up of local elected officials, have reinvested net revenue back into the community to help customers save on energy costs through a variety of programs.
It’s a model with a great track record across the state – the 23 CCAs in California have collectively invested in 8,000 megawatts of new renewable energy infrastructure, creating thousands of construction jobs in the process. They’re now serving over 11 million customers in more than 170 cities and 20 counties with cleaner energy at rates competitive with or lower than the existing utility in their service areas.
In 2016, The Climate Center reached out to the City of Stockton to share information about the program and offer assistance for the City as it evaluated starting a CCA. Three years later, in March of 2019, Stockton’s City Council voted 6-0, with one council member absent, to seek a grant offered by Sonoma Clean Power in order to fund a feasibility study on establishing a CCA for the City.
In September of 2020, Stockton council members voted unanimously to select a consultant to conduct the feasibility study. The City Council received its first informational presentation of the study in March of 2021. The City is now evaluating options for establishing or joining a CCA.
If the City Council decides to move forward with a CCA, millions of dollars in existing power generation revenues would be redirected to the City. Residents would have a new choice in their electricity service provider that would offer more transparency and influence over how their money is spent. Because they are public agencies, all decision-making meetings of CCAs are open to the public, enhancing energy democracy.
By aggregating the electrical load of cities and counties, CCAs have the ability to generate reserve funds that over time can be reinvested into the community through tailored programs to address specific needs. This has been the case for all 23 existing Community Choice agencies across the State of California. They’ve also been responsive in times of crisis – collectively, CCAs in California have donated millions of dollars toward COVID-19 relief efforts in their service areas.
A critical goal of the Center is to facilitate the level of stakeholder involvement necessary to ensure programs offered by the prospective agency would be equitable and have positive environmental and health impacts in Stockton’s most vulnerable communities. The Center views CCA as a vehicle to address specific environmental problems caused by systemic racism that have led to higher rates of exposure to air pollution, as well as a lack of access to energy storage opportunities in the era of mass power outages.
Formerly redlined communities in South Stockton endure some of the worst air quality in the state, and many struggle to pay their utility bills. A locally based not-for-profit electricity service provider could respond with incentive programs to help bring electric vehicles and charging infrastructure to low-income neighborhoods, as well as programs that incentivize local renewable energy projects that offer energy storage at little to no cost for low-income families and struggling small businesses. This could help on customer energy costs while also addressing the local air quality problem.
CCA is one of many solutions we advocate for as part of our Climate-Safe California campaign – a call to action to state legislators to accelerate greenhouse gas reduction timelines and help communities become more resilient to climate change impacts. As we speed up our timelines and adapt with changing climate science over time, it’s imperative that we center climate justice and navigate a just transition for fossil fuel workers. In San Joaquin County, that means advocating for the state to provide funding for climate resilience plans that address the impacts of flood, air pollution, and extreme heat, prioritizing lower-income communities. To help our community become energy-resilient, we also advocate for clean energy microgrid solutions. Additionally, we believe the state should ramp up funding for programs to increase carbon sequestration. Learn more about the campaign here.
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