In California, more than 65 cities and counties are already powered by 100% carbon-free electricity – and all but two of those communities are served by community choice aggregators. They authorize municipalities to buy clean energy for their residents and businesses. Through aggregation, municipalities pool their energy loads and leverage buying power. Communities are not just positioned to buy more renewable energy. They can also buy into microgrids to increase reliability and economic development.
There’s a difference between community solar and community aggregation. Community solar allows homeowners to buy into shared projects, whereas community aggregation allows a third party — often a municipality — to buy on behalf of customers. Community aggregation is ideal for deregulated energy markets, which can also join community solar efforts. The two programs can work in tandem.
Communities will also have more leverage to address “energy and environmental justice” issues. Placing clean energy projects in emerging neighborhoods and providing access to that sustainable power is a form of empowerment. “The more we build, the more jobs there are,” says Jeff Weiss, executive chair of DistributedSun, at the Our Energy Policy forum. “And the more the (solar) market expands.”