Community Choice Energy, a cool idea that’s heating up

Imagine a way for local communities to meet their climate action plan targets for greenhouse gas reductions AND save residents and business money on their electricity bills AND give consumers a choice of power options AND have money left over to pump back into the local community. That’s the ideal of Community Choice Energy, also known as Community Choice Aggregation.

In simple terms, CCA allows local cities and counties join together to buy (and generate) electricity for local residential and business use.  Palo Alto has its own utility, but most of the surrounding cities don’t and they have little or control over the energy sources that PG&E provides. In 2002, California began allowing communities to form CCAs, pooling their electricity demand to purchase power for local use. Since then, Marin has established a successful CCA, and Sonoma recently launched their own program.


CCAs are now a hot topic in the South Bay, with Sunnyvale beginning a feasiblity study, and Mountain View, Los Altos, and other local cities possibly joining in.

Sunnyvale estimates that forming a CCA might make more of a difference in
meeting their climate action plan than all other options combined.

Last September’s Fourth Friday featured an intro to CCAs by Bruge Hodge. Inspired by Bruce’s presentation, Transitioner Jan Butts has been following the movement closely. She recently went to Sacramento to lobby against AB2145, an industry-sponsored bill that would make it more difficult for communities to form CCAs.

Here’s Jan’s report. And to learn more about CCAs, click here.

Monday Aug 4 was my debut as a rookie lobbyist.

I traveled to Sacramento with Margaret Okuzumi to join about 20 other folks to lobby against AB 2145, which is supported by PG&E and Southern Edision utilities and would hinder the CCA movement with unfair restrictions. Margaret and I met with briefly with Senator Jerry Hill, and later with his staff, to express our support for CCAs and opposition to the bill. Later, 23 of us spoke at the Appropriations committee. Here’s a link to the video.

The next big decisive day will be 8/14 or 8/15, which is the last day for the bill to be forwarded to the Senate floor or as we hope, die a quiet death in the Appropriation Committee’s “suspense” file.

–Jan Butts

Links to more info:


Website for the No on 2145 effort: