Q: What is Community Choice Energy?
A: California state law allows a city or group of cities to establish a not-for-profit electricity provider ("CCE") in order to purchase power on behalf of their residents, businesses, and schools, and to set the rates charged for electricity usage. The CCE is effectively an alternative electric utility for power generation (but not for delivery) that introduces competition into the market for power production.
Q: Is it Really a Choice?
A: Yes! Our Community Choice provider becomes the default electricity provider for all the residents, businesses, and schools in our cities. However, before our Community Choice provider goes operational, electricity customers are given notice and can opt out, choosing to stay with SDG&E. Or they can opt out later if they don’t like the Community Choice provider for some reason. So, you see, this is really a choice, not a new monopoly.
Q: Does this mean that I no longer deal with SDG&E?
A: No. SDG&E maintains the power lines to your home or business, and you call SDG&E if you have a service problem. The CCE replaces SDG&E only for the purchase of generated electricity, not its distribution through the grid to your home.
Q: So will I get two monthly bills?
A: No, you will get one bill from SDG&E, and you still pay them. SDG&E passes on the portion of the bill for generation to the CCE. It is seamless; you don't have to think about it.
Q: Why do you say that a CCE is the clearest path to 100% clean energy?
A: The CCE is under the same local control as the cities that have a commitment to climate goals, such as expressed in Climate Action Plans (CAPs), and so the goals are aligned. The goal of an investor owned utility such as SDG&E is to maximize the dividends they pay to shareholders who are mostly not local. The cities' goals and those of SDG&E are not aligned with respect to achieving 100% clean energy by a certain target date.
Q: Why is it sometimes referred to as Community Choice "Aggregation" instead of "Energy"?
A: The original legislation gave the generic name "Community Choice Aggregation" to this kind of not-for-profit energy provider. This was in reference to the concept that the not-for-profit "aggregated" all customers within the district to purchase electricity. As this meaning was obscure, advocates adopted calling it Community Choice Energy as a clearer description of what it is. Formal documents for Community Choice Energy entities typically still use Community Choice Aggregation for consistency with the original legislation.