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Monday, June 25, 2012

800 Cities

I find my blog being reduced to the usual CEO announcements of exciting new evidence of a big new thing, but I must acknowledge being overwhelmed by events as Community Choice Aggregation lifts off into a major component of the United States electricity system. Last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced his support of a CCA measure to be placed on the November 2012 ballot, just after the City of Cincinnati signed a 100% renewable mix (using RECs, but hey, wow) a couple of months before. San Francisco surges forth - a CCA in which Local Power Inc. is intimately involved - with a plan to go green not just with Renewable Energy Credit trading, but with rapid and major physical energy localization using the City's Charter Revenue Bond Authority to finance city-owned and customer-owned In City renewables. After so many years promoting this vision and outcome of CCA, its time appears to have arrived, with such a proliferation of CCAs nationwide that it has become challenging to announce each new CCA, or to even track their progress.

800 cities and growing  means that the CCA structure has taken off - broken green power records overnight, again and again. With the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency, which has given awards to two green CCAs in recent months (Marin Energy Authority, California and Evanston, Illinois), and the state of California, which will celebrate San Francisco as the first large scale implementation of Governor Brown's decentralist energy policy, CCA now looks likely to go statewide, with the Bay Area becoming a group of several large CCAs (Marin County, San Francisco, East Bay Municipal Utility District, and Sonoma County), and San Diego and countywide municipalities forming one or two CCAs down South. In Central California, three contiguous counties (San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Monterey) will likely implement one or more CCAs regionally, and in Edison's service territory Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert look to be preparing with other area municipalities to form CCAs. I am told the combined annual revenues of the list of startup California CCAs alone is $35 Billion.

Achieving lift-off also means there is a need for CCAs to focus on energy localization. Too many CCAs have chosen to start programs the "easy way" by starting their programs just with power generation, and promising to get around to developing local renewable energy later. CCA governing boards need to realize that the opportunity window for planning local solar, efficiency, and other innovate small footprint green technologies is at the outset of the program, when the structure of the contracts with suppliers are put into place. CCA is only a means to an end, not an end in itself - for suppliers, getting the deal may spell success, but the communities supporting CCA want the REAL thing, not just the usual rhetoric. Big votes to approve an agency or going out to bid are the times when smart thinking can be put into agreements to get the energy localization put right up in the start of the service, showing results in just a few years that you will notice. Getting clear framing established and shovels in the ground during the start-up is essential for shaping the power deal.  A lot of people out there like to talk the talk of localization as a way of winning public support: CCAs must honor the trust that has been given them.

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