Community Choice Energy: The Power of Competition

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New opportunities for community aggregation in California have consumers considering energy choice.

San Diego Free Press
Contact: Mark Hughes

Community Choice Energy — also known as Community Choice Aggregation — offers us the chance to bring about a historic event: the conversion of a monopoly into a competitive business.

This happened to the telephone business by breaking up Ma Bell, and to the postal system, when FedEx started up. Would we have the data plans and services, even the phones we have today, without the AT&T breakup? Would we have overnight delivery if FedEx had not come along? The Post Office delivering packages on Sunday?

Competition drives innovation and efficiency. CCE programs pit two businesses against each other, one the investor-owned utility (IOU), the other an entity set up by a city, county, or a collection of cities.

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While it remains infeasible to duplicate transmission lines and distribution systems, it makes perfect sense to have two providers compete for power purchase contracts and build power plants that will produce the cheapest power. After all these decades, the power of competition will bring its forces to bear on this essential public service. Rest assured, this competition has proven to be working far better than the PUCs before them. In Illinois, for example, 80 percent of the cities and towns are served by a CCE program.

However, while the value of introducing competition into the electricity market cannot be understated, a CCE program provides other benefits as well. In San Diego’s case, our CCE will be driven by the goals of meeting the city’s Climate Action Plan and serving its citizens’ needs. Its primary aims will be:

  1. Affordably achieve 100 percent renewable energy for the city by 2035.
  2. Procure local renewable energy whenever possible.
  3. Create local jobs through the construction of local renewable energy facilities.
  4. Create innovative programs that will accelerate the adoption of renewable energy.

Does all this sound like a promising idea — perhaps even a no-brainer? Well, not to some….

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