Get to Know CCAs: These Community-Run Groups Could Power a Clean Energy Future

​​Have you ever wondered how electricity gets to us? It begins with power plants that generate electricity and high-voltage transmission lines that transmit it to substations. From there, lower-voltage distribution lines distribute it to homes and businesses.

Public utilities in states oversee this entire process of generation, transmission, and distribution and control the electricity sources and pricing.

To provide more options for renewable electricity sources and get better prices for its residents, some communities within states have turned to Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs.

What is Community Choice Aggregation?

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs allow local governments within states to buy power for their customers from an alternative supplier while still receiving transmission and distribution services from their existing utility provider.

This gives communities more freedom to choose their electricity sources.

Instead of choosing the default options set by public utilities, CCAs can choose an option that provides more green electricity or lower electricity prices.

Currently, ten states allow local governments to form CCAs:

  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island
  • California
  • Virginia

CCA Programs may be run by the municipality that starts it, or they may elect someone else to run it. 

In New York for example, the CCA Administrator is a company, non-profit, or local government that has been authorized by the Public Service Commission to administer a CCA program in New York State.

In California, CCA can be operated by a Joint Powers Authority (JPA), which is an independent public agency that operates a CCA for multiple municipalities. Alternatively, a city or county can run an independent CCA, or it can be a combination of both. Similar to New York, a private company can also operate a CCA.

What are the advantages of Community Choice Aggregation?

CCAs provide communities with more freedom to choose their electricity sources and can often result in prices that are lower than the residential retail price for electricity.

They can sometimes get 15-20% lower retail prices for residents compared to what is offered by public utilities.

Apart from having more control over their overall energy costs, eligible customers can support the shift to clean electricity sources and the creation of local jobs.

How can I enroll in a CCA program?

You may already be enrolled in one! In most municipalities where CCAs exist, CCA participation is the default and residents have the choice to opt out.

If you choose to stay in the program, you will still receive one electricity bill from your utility. The only difference would be an additional field that would mention the name of the CCA program.

That’s also a great way to find out if you are part of a CCA program.

Finding a list of all the CCAs in your area may take some digging. There is no up-to-date, comprehensive list of all the CCA programs, but we recommend starting with the list on this page from the EPA.

Switching to renewable energy and off of fossil fuels is a crucial part of a low-carbon future, and investing in CCAs is one way to do it.

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