Thursday, December 7, 2023

National Rankings: California CCA 2.0 is America's Only Proven Renewable Energy Business Model

We received the latest news on green power achievement by California CCA 2.0 programs and
Massachusetts Green Municipal Aggregations (CCA 1.0) and wanted to provide an illuminating comparison between the firing power of CCA 1.0 and 2.0 when it comes to producing results for renewable energy and climate action.

In Massachusetts, the first state to introduce CCA as a part of electricity restructuring legislation passed in 1997, principally produced the Cape Light Compact, a group of 21 towns on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, forming the state’s first aggregation program in 2000. The idea was slow to catch on, however, until electricity prices started rising and news of CCA 2.0 from California in 2013 and 2014 showed how CCA could actually build renewables, not just buy certificates, prompting more climate-minded Massachusetts municipalities to follow suit. Today, there are 168 municipal aggregation plans active in the state, saving consumers more than $200 million annually, according to a report from the nonprofit Green Energy Consumers Alliance. Seventy-six of Massachusetts’ aggregation programs included extra renewable content in 2022, or about half of the CCAs, which comprise about half of Massachusetts communities. Among these, 40 communities didn't set minimums but instead let individual residents opt-in to higher levels of renewable energy, but this option achieves very little in terms of volume, with typically low participation rates. In 2022, Massachusetts’ green energy aggregation programs increased demand for renewable energy in the state by more than 1 million megawatt-hours, the Green Energy Consumers Alliance calculated. While there is no other program in the commonwealth that produces cleaner electrons without subsidy, according to the Consumers Alliance, only one Massachusetts CCA - the first one - is in the top twenty in the US at number 12. The million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy is sourced, not built, and suggests a total generation at about 700 MW. CCA 1.0 is a lot better at supporting renewable energy than any other policy in Massachusetts, but was depth-charged by California's v2 model.

California's CCA 2.0 model, though implemented in just the past decade and most of them in the past five years has already beat every utility in the nation for the number of customers served green power above state requirements. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's latest annual ranking showed that nine California CCAs were ranked in the top 10 nationwide, beating utilities hands-down. These top nine represent 4.6M customers, compared to the lower 10 on the list, which only total 650K customers. This makes CCA 2.0 hands-down the US green power winner when it comes to exceeding the minimum standard of green power set by regulators. Not only is CCA 2.0 ten times more impactful than other energy business models out there, but it achieved this level within just a few years, whereas the utilities have had decades to achieve change like this - and simply have not. 

The firepower of CCA 2.0 is easily illustrated. CCA 2.0 in California has committed $30B in 14GW of renewable generation mostly in-state, often regional and sometimes in-town, together generating 29,000 green construction jobs in California. The thirty billion dollars total as of 2023 includes the “Climate Bonds” Local Power developed to fund renewable energy and efficiency (San Francisco’s Proposition H charter amendment, 2001) in the amount of $6B to date in Solar Bonds added to $19B of private investment to produce the 14GW.

A key here is time. Utilities have had thirty years of mandates to green their power and did not do so. Massachusetts CCA created one big achiever - the Cape Light  Compact - but even it took a quarter century to get there, and most CCAs in Massachusetts followed a more conventional model and remained largely limited to the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates to this day. California CCA 2.0 programs built 14 GW of new renewables in just a few years, compared to Massachusetts where 1.0 merely bought power from the equivalent of a 0.7GW facility. 

California's population is larger, but even adjusted there is still no comparison. 14 is twenty times 0.7.. And the 14 GW is new, whereas Massachusetts' 0.7 is mostly purchased power from already existing facilities.  That means CCA 2.0's net carbon benefit is in the zone of 20-50x CCA 1.0. .

That's the good news. Better news is, CCA 2.0 is 20 years old. We have been working on the Next Level  for the past decade, releasing CCA 3.0: Climate Mobilization in 2020 and implementing it since then. The CCA 3.0 model now getting started in New York State will take an even greater leap in terms of accelerated energy transitions by upgrading an already proven model both with new depth from revolutionary customer engagement methods to drive voluntary investment in energy localization; and with an expanded breadth across all addressable carbon - aggregating not just power but, heat, vehicles and waste. You can order a copy for free at the link above. This is already getting going in New York but is designed to work in any state: even California.

Just as we learned the lessons of the limitations of Green Municipal Aggregation or CCA 1.0 in the late 20th century, so we have learned from the limitations even of California's record-shattering CCA 2.0 model, transforming an already successful idea onward into something even more transformative and powerful: a platform and umbrella for Climate Mobilization in any community.

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