California surpasses renewable energy goals due to local demand

A new UCLA study shows that the increased local demand for clean power enables the government to surpass its renewable power targets. The research finds that the community choice aggregators (CCA) significantly impact energy procurement and clearly showed how clean power providers influence the state’s energy supply.

The primary role of community choice aggregators is to purchase renewable energy on account of their businesses and residents, allowing localities to control energy procurement as well as providing an alternative to the investor-owned utilities. One of the community choice aggregators is the Clean Power Alliance that serves the Los Angeles region. It offers clean power to clients in 31 cities and counties such as Downey, Alhambra, Santa Monica, and Culver City.

A researcher at the Center for Innovation, Kelly Trumbull, said that community choice in power significantly helps reshape California’s energy sector. The report shows that community choice energy use has experienced rapid growth in the state. This means that over 30% of businesses and households totalling over 10 million customers can now choose a CCA as their energy supplier in California. This is an uptake from 1% in 2010.

Most of the power that these energy providers provide is derived from renewable sources. CCAs offer more than 25% of all their energy from renewable sources in all regions. Researchers found that CCAs bought twice as much clean power as needed by the state from 2011 to 2019. This helped the state attain its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions every year.

State’s Renewables Portfolio Standard established a clean power goal that says that by 2045, 100% of its electricity is carbon-free. The earlier target was that 25% of all state power to be from renewable sources. The report shows that in 2019, on average, 50% of the CCAs’ power was derived from renewable sources. Residents have benefited from clean power providers as they provide energy at a lower price. The study also shows that the CCAs offer extra-economic and environmental benefits, such as low-income residents get financial assistance programs and electric transportation incentives.

Trumbull said that in California, CCAs offer services to a wide range of communities varying in size, political affiliations, and median incomes. Trumbull suggested that the use of CCAs needs to be implemented across the nation. So far, nine states have embraced the community choice approach.

The California model shows that CCAs are efficient in communities, especially when the carbon-free power surpasses the current provision. The model also showed that state regulation and policy have a vital role to play in the community choice approach’s success.