Saturday, January 6, 2018

CCA Reaching Critical Mass

GTM Research - The "Total Addressable (PV) Market for
 California Community Choice Aggregators" - Oct 2, 2017

Even though Community Choice Aggregations (CCAs) still serve a small minority of communities in the United States, the scale of going green regionally is already registering in national green power industry statistics.  It's about to get a lot bigger.

CCA is already 4% of the national PV project pipeline based on a “green CCA” market that is just getting started and about to expand rapidly in both California and New York. Given the fact that CCA is just now hitting a major growth curve in some of America's largest energy using states, and most new adopters are motivated by a focus on energy localization, this percentage is certain to grow significantly in 2018. 

CCA is finally getting the attention of national industry and media as a major and revolutionary new force in American energy. In October, GreenTech Media announced that CCA has taken over the solar market in California, and the impact is being felt across the country.  “Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) are positioned to represent up to 45 percent of California’s utility PV demand over the next five years. The total addressable market for CCAs is set to reach 3.9 gigawatts by 2022, but it is also expected to grow beyond that projection, as eight more (county-scale) CCAs are slated to launch in the immediate future."

 Green CCA is not new, and was in fact the original concept, but has taken years to make into the rule rather than the exception among CCA implementors. While the initial growth curve of CCA in Ohio and Illinois was focused on discounts and/or higher renewable energy content using Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), more recent, and even much dramatic growth curve has been largely motivated by the benefits that can only be achieved by localization: local jobs, climate action, and local economic development. 

In California, truly a revolution in power is already underway, with 85% of all customers of investor-owned utilities expected to be served by CCAs in the next few years. Virtually all of these CCAs are focused on development of local renewables, energy efficiency and meaningful greenhouse gas reductions in addition to greener power: 150,000 GHh switching to CCA could leverage an unprecedented wave of DER development, and cause an historical greenhouse gas reduction.   

New York is the exciting new CCA 2.0 kid on the block. After the State of New York approved CCA as a platform for Distributed Energy Resource (DER) development in 2014, the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) has taken the lead role in helping municipalities pursue a DER-centric "CCA 2.0" strategy, creating a "CCA Toolkit" with Local Power's assistance, and forming a special workgroup to advise the state on how to augment energy localization and remove any outstanding barriers in state law and regulation. I am proud to have participated in these processes.

The trend towards green power has even spread back to early CCA states whose early adopters were initially focused on achieving discounted rates for customers, inspired by widespread successes of CCAs to achieve greener power at discounted rates, and also new local benefits associated with local renewables.

In Massachusetts, about 130 municipalities out of the Commonwealth's 351 total are already under CCA service, with the City of Boston recently joining the pack, focused on achieving greenhouse gas reductions. 

More than 250 communities in Ohio are under CCA service, including the nation’s first “green CCA” in Northeast Ohio. Today, NOPEC has 850K customers in 218 communities in 14 counties statewide, all being served 50% renewable power at a discount below utility rates - something that was unthinkable even in California only half a decade ago, but becoming widespread under CCAs, which have been proven able to deliver greener power much cheaper than utilities and deregulated suppliers. This kind of scale creates substantial environmental benefits. In Southeast Ohio, SOPEC has been focused not merely on greener power but on energy localization for the past couple of years, providing the state with a ramming rod for CCA 2.0.

About 600 communities in Illinois are under CCA service. Between 2011 and 2014, 91 Illinois municipalities representing 1.7 million consumers switched their communities to 100% Renewable Energy using CCA. 91 medium sized cities and towns containing 1.7M customers have chosen 100% renewable energy (using RECs), which is a six TWh annual renewable demand boost - the carbon reduction equal to eliminating one million cars! While Illinois' CCA law needs changing to eliminate barriers to CCA investment in local renewables and efficiency, these accomplishments demonstrate both the power of CCA and the political will for significant action in green power.

With the numbers starting to show, national policy groups are beginning to recognize the true potential that CCA has to create significant local benefits like customer equity, community wealth retention, local jobs and economic development, and local pollution reduction, as well as global benefits like greenhouse gas reductions.  NAACP's just featured CCA in its Environmental and Climate Justice Program's Just Energy Policies and Practices Action Toolkit. 

 Watch for some major new leaps in 2018, with emerging CCAs shifting their focus further towards the local, and even behind the meter. As CCAs continue to prove new services like EVs and solar plus storage, solar bonds/green bonds continue to go mainstream, and increasing levels of DER integration prove themselves in the form of community microgrids, and community solar, EV sharing and dynamic charging, CCAs will revolutionize demand-side technologies and customer-ownership the way the have already transformed retail energy. Mark my words: what was a luxury will soon prove cheaper than status quo power, and what was a fantasy utopia will soon become reality.

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