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Center releases report on Community Choice and the economic impact of buying local renewable power

The Climate Center is pleased to present this report about potential local economic benefits from Community Choice Energy (CCE) in the San Joaquin Valley. It builds on our previous work in analyzing economic impacts of CCE in the City of San Jose in “Community Choice Energy: What is the Economic Impact? San Jose, California Case Study,” published in September 2016 and available for download at the Center’s website.

The purpose of this report is to provide information to city and county leaders in the Central Valley to assist in evaluating CCE for their constituents. The report supports Community Choice entities in realizing the vision to be game-changing innovation platforms, and to take strategic steps today to become increasingly competitive in the dynamic energy market of the future. To accomplish this, CCEs must perform differently than Investor Owned Utilities.

Commendably, California’s six operational CCEs currently provide electricity to their customers at overall lower rates with a higher mix of renewables and lower emissions than their competition. The many emerging CCEs aim to follow suit. By 2020, CCEs may serve as much as sixty percent of the eligible California service territory.

CCEs decide the mix of local and remote sources of electricity. What factors must CCEs consider when making the decision about their energy mix in addition to the cost of electricity? This study illustrates the value of developing local energy resources by quantifying the increasing economic benefits that result from expanding the procurement of power from local sources.

From a business-as-usual perspective, some of the scenarios we examine may seem aggressive, but energy market policies and system structures are all changing in California, and we believe Community Choice can help accelerate and take advantage of those changes. What seems challenging today will be much easier in just a few years.

This report focuses on solar photovoltaics because of this technology’s proven track record for scalability, the beneficial experience that California CCEs have demonstrated with solar, and the existence of a tested model for estimating the local economic impact of solar deployment. Geographically, this study focuses on the San Joaquin Valley due to its socioeconomic challenges, status as an area that is disproportionately impacted by poor air quality and other pollution hazards, size, and importance to the statewide economy.

This report provides input to a rich conversation about Community Choice Energy and we encourage further discussion based on a solid economic analysis of potential impact.

Download the report (pdf)