The A, B, Cs of Community Choice Aggregation + 100% Renewable Energy

“Nicole, our local Community Choice Aggregation has asked us to upgrade our service to 100% renewable for an added cost of $0.01/kWh. I like the idea of our business using 100% renewable energy but need more information. Can you walk me through how CCAs operate and make a recommendation on whether we should switch over?” — Marin County based client

If you, like my client, are unclear on what a Community Choice Aggregation is, how it operates and whether paying a price premium for 100% renewable makes sense this FAQ will help.

What is Community Choice Aggregation or CCA? CCAs are designed to provide an alternative to purchasing energy from investor-owned utilities (IOUs) like Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). The program allows cities and counties to aggregate (or pool together) the electricity demand of their customers to secure alternative energy contracts. CCAs can either purchase and/or generate electricity to meet their customers’ needs. Either way, delivery continues over existing electricity lines.

Where do they operate? CCAs exist in California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Ohio, and Illinois and can operate (in those states) in areas that are not serviced by a municipal utility.

What’s the benefit? The quick answer is greener and typically less expensive electricity. In California, where CCAs are rapidly gaining popularity, the focus has been on transitioning to cleaner, highly renewable sources of electricity. At the same time CCAs work to keep rates at or below IOUs.

Is the delivered energy really 100% renewable? If you recall CCAs procure and/or generate energy on behalf of their customers that is then added to the grid. By purchasing 100% renewable energy to match your company’s electricity demands you increase the amount of renewable energy that is put on the grid, thereby improving the overall portfolio. The actual electrons that are delivered to your business are from the overall mix and representative of that mix.

Does paying a price premium for 100% renewables make sense for our business? For my client — highly community based, deeply committed to improving both environmental and social sustainability — the slight increase in cost, combined with substantial efforts to decrease on-site energy use, makes sense. Marin Clean Energy’s Deep Green option is:

  • 50% wind, 50% solar
  • adds a cost of only $0.01/kWh
  • half of the price premium gets invested into local, renewable energy projects
  • it supports the company’s efforts to become a California Green Business
  • it supports the community’s 2020 greenhouse gas reduction target

If your business is considering the switch this cost/renewable comparison of MCE Light Green, MCE Deep Green and PG&E is helpful.

For businesses working to decrease greenhouse gas emissions MCE Deep Green offers an uncomplicated and affordable solution. The reinvestment into local, renewable energy projects is, well, priceless.