The San Luis Obispo County Clean Energy Economy Coalition (SLO-CEEC) is championing the effort to educate elected leaders and community members about the possibilities of a CCA program within San Luis Obispo County. Formed in 2012 to explore the possible implementation of a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program, SLO Clean Energy (for short) empowers the communities on the Central Coast to choose a low-risk, ratepayer-based approach in order to gain benefits from aggregating local energy demand.
“We feel that a CCA is the most effective way to achieve clean energy abundance with the financial advantages of local control, economic development and energy independence. The present opportunity is about $115 million annually to purchase renewable energy, fund build-out of our local power, and support local programs. All from ratepayers, not taxpayers. After the power is purchased, we could have $20 million or more a year available for our community. Imagine what we could create with that,” says Leadership Team member Mladen Bandov.
In California, CCA programs allow cities and counties to buy energy in bulk on behalf of participating ratepayers. Participating communities can also create locally tailored energy efficiency programs and support build out of local clean energy generation projects. So far, the cities and counties of Marin, Sonoma, and San Francisco have successfully paved the way for other communities to choose clean, local energy.
As an encouraging example for San Luis Obispo County’s communities to follow, Marin Clean Energy (MCE), which is Marin County’s CCA program, has focused on renewable energy and efficiency since 2010. MCE offers Light Green (50% renewable) and Deep Green (100% renewable) options for ratepayers, averaging about 70% total renewable energy usage. Currently, Marin’s Light Green option costs less on average than the investor-owned utility’s rates with the intent to continue providing rate stability over time. Program funds are being leveraged to create innovative locally tailored energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
Sonoma Clean Power (SCP), which closely resembles San Luis Obispo County’s energy demand characteristics, established a CCA program for communities within Sonoma County last year. SCP focuses on buying power from clean energy sources such as wind and solar, as well as establishing local energy generation projects right from the beginning of the program. As SCP develops an implementation plan to structure a business model that most effectively purchases power on behalf of Sonoma’s ratepayers, the momentum is building for other California communities to choose this alternative for a realized sustainable future.
SLO-CEEC’s mission includes clean, local energy generation along with local economic development, long-term rate stability, and increased power reliability in times of emergency. During the 2012 Central Coast Bioneers Conference, SLO-CEEC began key conversations with elected leaders and partnering organizations to start the process for a feasibility study of a local CCA program. SLO-CEEC continues to educate the public, community-benefit groups, businesses and local leadership on the possibility of CCA and create collaborative partnerships via an ambassador program. SLO-CEEC can accept 501(c)(3) tax-benefited contributions to help fund the efforts for reaching out and educating the public. For more information, visit www.slocleanenergy.org.