Is ‘Community Choice’ Energy Really A Choice?

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Many California homeowners have looked into the Community Choice Energy option (Community Choice Aggregation) as an inexpensive way to ditch their local investor-owned utility companies (such as Southern California Edison) and rely on clean energy provided by the community.

For the high desert, this is a relatively new option. Because it is so new, many people don’t have enough information to make an informed decision.

Can Community Choice energy save you money? Does it really support clean energy initiatives? Let’s investigate!

community choice energy local choice program community solar

What Is A CCA?

CCA stands for Community Choice Aggregation. It is a service program provided by the California government as an option to use solar and other energy generated by the community instead of the traditional utility grid.

- Option One Solar

These programs are made with environmental and other social goals in mind, so they have often been referred to as the “politically correct retail energy choice.” But the question remains: Are CCAs actually reducing the use of traditional energy or pollution created from these sources?

Is CCA Different From My Utility Company?

Most homeowners with high electric bills agree that public utilities have the wrong motivations (profits) and don’t generate power in a cost-effective manner. Electrical utilities are not in the business of finding the best deal for consumers, they want to find the best profit margins.

Is your local CCA program different? CCA energy is a direct competitor to the public utility. These programs provide an alternative with renewable energy sources funded by the local government.

Most often though, the rates from your local CCA program won’t provide you with very big savings. Your average monthly bill may look basically the same.

Is CCA Energy Cheaper?

The transition to CCA – and the savings – are just not that simple. Someone has to pay for the power that investor-owned utilities procure every day, no matter where it comes from.

Regulators require many utilities to purchase renewables under long-term contracts that are much more expensive than current renewables prices. That’s why switching to a CCA always comes with an “Exit Fee.”

What Is An Exit Fee?

This is a fee charged to all Community Choice Aggregations (CCAs) by investor-owned utilities so they can recover some of the long-term costs created by customers dropping the utility as a service provider.

Who Is Your Default Energy Provider?

Most CCAs have been given “default” status by the local government. This means that customers will default to this service provider unless they manually opt-out.

Because many customers pay little attention to the details on their bills, they often don’t even realize they are CCA choice energy customers who opted-in to the local community energy program.

Read More:

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What Is Net Energy Metering?

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Can I Use Solar With A CCA?

Every homeowner in Apple Valley is sent a letter and then automatically opted-in to the local CCA program, called Apple Valley Choice Energy. Even homeowners with solar panels are automatically added to the program and must manually opt-out.

This causes a huge problem with solar, as solar power systems are designed to make use of regular TOU rates. When combined with CCA program rates, solar energy can be worth 3-times less than how the system was designed!

We recommend that all solar owners opt out
of any CCA program.

Just compare the average monthly rates side-by-side. You can see that solar is not only the cheapest but also the best option available.

community choice energy rates
*Based on 690 kWh monthly usage. Rates current as of June 2022.

If your primary motivation for using CCA is to use clean energy, then there are better options available. Solar is obviously the best option, but only when NOT combined with the local CCA program.

As mentioned above, CCA programs advertise local jobs and energy as the main benefit. However, that’s not always true. It’s not guaranteed that your local government will choose to procure energy from local facilities or companies. In reality, even some of the “green” electricity from your local CCA energy mix may come from facilities elsewhere in the country. So if you want to support your local community, solar energy is still the best option.

When you’re ready to upgrade to solar energy, give us a call at (855) 502-6363, and Option One Solar will provide you with the best energy choice.

 

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