by Duane Ediger
One of the ways CCA programs benefit their local communities is by keeping proceeds from energy purchases local. Where Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) commonly send those proceeds across state or national borders (for example, Tucson Electric Power customers fund a 10% return on investment to Canada-based Fortis Inc.), a CCA pours profits back into the community.
According to Lancaster (CA) City Manager Jason Caudle, Lancaster’s CCA, Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE), which was created in partnership with IOU Southern California Edison (SCE), generates $4 million in local energy revenue per year. Caudle encouraged other southern California cities gathered for an economic outlook conference in spring 2020 to consider the CCA model.
LCE’s default service saves customers on monthly bills with higher (35%) renewable content than under SCE. Some customers pay a premium for the 100% renewable option. Profits pay for energy efficiency programs, sponsorship of city events, and building up of a reserve for years when there is an energy shortfall due to unforeseen events.
Another CCA, Peninsula Clean Energy is using its surplus to install 3500 charging stations, as well as incentivizing customers to switch to electric vehicles by paying them rebates.
As city coffers throughout Arizona have taken a hard hit during the COVID pandemic, being able to keep more utility payments local will improve the resiliency of our cities and the well-being of Arizonans.
Cities and counties throughout the state will be able to strengthen their budgets once the Arizona Corporation Commission establishes a rule that makes it possible to start CCA programs, with access to wholesale energy markets.