Electricity production is the second largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States, with approximately 62.9% of our electricity coming from non-renewable fossil fuels. In light of the federal government’s failure to enact comprehensive climate legislation, municipalities across the country have begun to tackle climate change at the local level. One such example is Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). Community Choice Aggregation allows local governments to aggregate the electrical loads of the residents, businesses, and institutions in their geographic region to purchase energy on their behalf. Since the first CCA was established in Massachusetts in 1997, CCAs have continued to grow in popularity. However, no state has seen more significant growth than California. Since the launch of Marin Clean Energy in 2010, nineteen CCA programs now exist in California and reports estimate that 16% of the state load will be serviced by CCAs in 2020.
Though climate change is a collective action problem that no one municipality can solve, CCAs offer a way for local communities to make a significant impact. In particular, community choice aggregation in California highlights CCA’s recent successes in increasing renewable energy generation, reducing GHG emissions, and empowering communities. These triumphs suggest that CCAs should be implemented nationwide. As more states begin to pass CCA-enabling legislation, more Americans can choose to get their energy from renewable sources. Over time, the collective impact of a wide network of CCAs may have a significant impact on mitigating against the threat of climate change. Looking towards the future, we should focus efforts on resolving the PCIA debate, continuing to build renewable, local generation facilities, and working to fund the expansion of the CCA model across more states and communities.