Community Choice Energy | Local Clean Energy Alliance of the Bay Area

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Community Choice Energy

Currently, most businesses and residents in the Bay Area are unable to purchase cleaner energy through the grid. Installing solar panels is one way to have cleaner energy, but is not economically feasible for everyone. Likewise, purchasing “green credits” and carbon offsets are not the same as renewable energy delivered directly to your business or home.

Community Choice energy gives customers a choice in their energy provider. With Community Choice energy, cities and counties contract with a licensed energy service provider to purchase energy in bulk, build renewable energy generating facilities, and implement energy efficiency programs. This efficient public/private partnership makes it possible to get the greenest energy at the best rates. Each consumer is enrolled in the program unless they “opt out.” In other words, consumers can choose to buy electricity through the community choice program or stay with the investor-owned utility (IOU). The city or county keeps prices competitive—and affordable for low-income residents— while investing in renewable energy generation and energy efficiency with full citizen oversight. The utility company continues to handle transmission and billing.

Oakland and Berkeley are considering creating an East Bay Joint Powers Authority for Community Choice energy to meet a target of 50% renewable power by 2017 and to offer stable, affordable rates. This is a considerably higher percentage of renewable energy than Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) is projected to offer by that date. The Local Clean Energy Alliance advocates that any East Bay Community Choice energy program prioritize local generation of power and equitably distribute the job and wealth creation benefits of local clean energy. The alliance estimates that meeting 50% of the summer electricity demand of Oakland’s commercial building sector through local solar power would create nearly 1,000 new long-term jobs and be a significant step towards Oakland Mayor Dellums’ goal of creating 10,000 jobs for Oakland residents. The Alliance is supportive of local hire polices and workforce development initiatives.

A recent study explored the job creation possibilities of a San Diego Community Choice energy program that increases electricity efficiency by 40% and installs PV systems on about 20% of its roofs and parking lots. The study found that installing PV panels and electricity efficiency improvements would create more than 123,000 direct job-years of employment over 40 years. This is 13 times more direct job-years of employment than continued dependence on and investment in fossil fuels and nuclear power.

The Local Clean Energy Alliance advocates the establishment of a community advisory committee consisting of community leaders and local experts to provide oversight for Community Choice implementation and administration.

To move Community Chocie forward, we are:

  1. Doing outreach to Neighborhood Groups and community events to educate them about Community Choice energy and how it would benefit residents in the East Bay. 
  2. We are lobbying city officials to make Community Choice energy a priority
  3. Attending public meetings to speak on behalf of Community Choice energy. 
  4. Encouraging people to join the LCEA and receive updates about our activities and become directly involved
  5. Having people endorse Community Choice energy
  6. Getting people to post comments on the Berkeley Climate Action Plan that push for Community Choice energy to be priority. 

If you would like to support this effort, please contact Jan at baylocalize.org.

For more info on Community Choice energy, see our links and resources.

Presentation at Berkeley Climate Action Coalition.