As utilities match CCAs on price, aggregators increase climate action, grow economies of scale to compete

Utility Dive

Community choice aggregations (CCAs), once seen primarily as a way for customers to lower their utility bills, are responding to new competitive prices from utilities by stressing their value in the energy transition.

Nine states have CCA-enabling legislation allowing local governments to form a power providing organization for their residents. In some of those states, CCAs are serving significant numbers of former investor-owned utility (IOU) customers. But as utilities turn to low cost natural gas and renewables to keep prices down, CCAs have begun using customer demand for ambitious climate action to stay competitive, data shows.

The record-setting growth of state and local governments with 100% clean energy or zero emissions targets and the growth of CCAs are linked, according to 2019 reports from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of California, Los Angeles, Luskin Center for Innovation (Luskin).

CCAs are also forcing utilities to set higher climate and renewables goals, added Sierra Club Ready for 100 Senior Campaign Representative Drew O’Bryan. “Each CCA with a 100% renewables commitment adds pressure for the utility to accelerate the timeline of its transition.”

CCAs are maturing into “stable, creditworthy organizations able to take on large, long-term procurements” that can meet system needs, said Independent Energy Producers Association Executive Director Jan Smutny-Jones, former head of the California grid operator’s board of directors. And CCAs are increasingly led by “people who understand how the power system works.”

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