We are at the dawn of a new era, which will bring new forms of energy and perceptions of life itself. Though climate change is already upon us, the effects can be brought under control. The most critical factor, in the US, is how we produce electricity. Local Power Inc. works with local government staff, city, town, and village councils and boards of supervisors to launch a community-based electricity service (Community Choice Aggregation, or CCA). Their business model is both locally controlled and draws upon renewable energies and efficiency technologies that radically reduce carbon pollution.
In the past two decades, Local Power’s founders created a whole new energy market that supplies over 5% of Americans. There are now CCAs in over 1300 municipalities, from small rural towns to major urban cities like Chicago (IL), Cincinnati (OH), and in California — most recently, Sonoma County, with San Francisco to follow. Many other California counties now lining up. Growing fast, CCA was recently ordered by the Governor of New York State, and pending legislation in multiple states could bring prime time to CCA as a major component of the nation’s energy market structure in the wake of energy industry deregulation.
Paul Fenn was a 28-year-old “wunderkind,” when he co-authored America’s first landmark CCA bill in 1994. What he proposed seemed revolutionary. Communities can secede from the monopolistic utilities that surround them and form a CCA. That gives them the ability to decide what kind of energy they will use and also brings the inhabitants a freedom that allows a community or region to decide in a local public process how it will supply itself with energy.
Fenn helped frame CCA legislation in Ohio and New Jersey. He saw the opportunity reach his home state of California in 2001, when prices tripled after deregulation, and wrote a next generation version of CCA legislation and a process that encourages emphasis on developing energy efficiency and local renewables to replace grid power as the primary source.
“In each state, I learned something new,” Fenn told Fast Company Magazine, which described how CCA works:
The California law allows city contracts to require rising percentages of renewables and provides for bond financing for renewable-energy projects — a low-cost source of capital. That’s how San Francisco plans to finance a $2 billion system: 360 megawatts of rooftop solar and wind power as well as efficiency measures, representing half the city’s current usage.
- The real problem confronting US electricity transition and how CCAs can give the grid resilience.
- How CCAs bring jobs to local economies & how to finance these projects .
- The role CCAs play in addressing the World’s carbon emissions.
- The role that smartgrid and smart technologies play.
Image Credits: All Photos were taken from the Local Power Inc website
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