Western Mass Community Choice Energy is a community group advocating Community Choice Energy for Amherst, Northampton, Pelham, and other municipalities who may choose to join in the future.
Community Choice Energy (CCE), also called Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), is a program that enables cities and towns to pool (or aggregate) the electricity demand of their communities for the purpose of supplying electricity. A CCE buys and/or develops power on behalf of the residents, businesses, and government electricity users in its jurisdiction. Some towns in Massachusetts are now using CCE as a tool to prioritize the purchase of renewable energy.
CCE is an energy supply model that works with the communities’ existing utilities (Eversource for Amherst and Pelham, and National Grid for Northampton), which continue to deliver power, maintain the grid, provide consolidated billing and other customer services. The diagram below depicts how this local energy aggregation model works.
CCE Plus is a model of Community Choice Energy that offers additional benefits beyond those offered by a basic CCE. The three priorities of this model are to:
- purchase energy that is as green as possible while offering competitive rates
- continually add local distributed energy resources such as solar and wind, and
- provide smart, targeted energy efficiency services.
Community Choice Energy Plus is considered the single most powerful tool cities and towns can employ to quickly reduce community greenhouse gas emissions.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Through CCE Plus, local governments and their constituents can achieve a powerful range of objectives and realize numerous benefits:
- Transition to a cleaner, more efficient energy supply, creating deep and long-lasting greenhouse gas reductions
- Competitive electricity rates, long term rate reduction
- Reduced dependence on fossil fuel markets, creating rate stability
- Customer and community ownership
- Low and middle income customer participation, consumer protection
- Local economic benefits, such as jobs, local finance, business opportunities and community wealth retention and resiliency
- Provision of energy efficiency services and local renewable energy projects to augment contracted power
- Reduced energy use
Many CCEs in California are leading the way in adding greenhouse gas-reducing features. In Massachusetts, the Cape Light Compact is a leader in the implementation of energy efficiency measures as well as in the development of local renewables. See our Resources page for links to California and Massachusetts CCEs.
So far, seven states have established laws enabling local governments to form CCEs. In Massachusetts, the law enabling CCEs is G. L. c. 164, § 134, which is part of the Utility Restructuring Act of 1997. See our Resources page for the enabling legislation.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Massachusetts is on the forefront of the renewable energy revolution, exceeded only by California. With CCE, valley residents have the opportunity not only to bundle our electricity load to save money, but to have real choice in the power we develop and use, and the ability to deeply reduce demand by customizing energy efficiency. We are the next frontier and potential tourism hub of east coast energy innovation!