Promote lowest feasible carbon emissions

Description: Cities and communities around the country are reducing their climate disrupting emissions by cleaning up their electricity supply. In the ten states that have adopted legislation enabling Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), that often means joining with other government jurisdictions to form a CCA program. CCA programs serve their customers by procuring electricity on behalf of its member jurisdictions (see Start a Community Choice Aggregation Program). By aggregating all ratepayers from member jurisdictions into a single energy procurement negotiation, CCAs can often deliver lower rates and cleaner electricity than otherwise available from the investor owned utility (IOU) alternative. Many CCAs provide multiple electric energy options with varying percentages of clean or renewable energy up to 100% renewably sourced electricity.

When CCAs offer a 100% renewable energy product, member jurisdictions can select it as their jurisdiction’s “default” energy choice for all ratepayers within the jurisdiction. This helps advance the jurisdiction’s climate goals and reduces reliance on fossil fuels. According to the University of Southern California Luskin Center for Innovation, CCAs are one of the most effective ways a local jurisdiction can reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Nationwide, nearly 200 local jurisdictions (listed below as of May 2024) within CCAs have selected 100% renewable energy for their constituents. This includes 37 jurisdictions in California, 91 in Illinois, 28 in Massachusetts, and over 33 in Ohio. Many CCAs, serving these and other jurisdictions, have plans to entirely eliminate GHG emissions from their electric power portfolio by 2030.

Even when individual CCA jurisdictions do not select a 100% renewable option, their CCA may offer options with a lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity or higher renewable content than either the IOU alternative or state requirements. Examples from California CCAs–with emissions intensity measured in lbs of CO2equivalent (CO2e) per Megawatt-hour (MWh) for 2022 (the latest year of available data)–include Peninsula Clean Energy’s ECOplus product with an emissions intensity of 9 lbs CO2e/MWh, CleanPowerSF’s Green service at 47 lbs CO2e/MWh, Redwood Coast Energy’s REpower option with 49 lbs CO2e/MWh emissions intensity, and Sonoma Clean Power’s Clean Start option, which had an intensity of 112 lbs CO2e/MWh. During the same time period, the average emissions intensity for California IOUs was 422 lbs CO2e/MWh.

In Massachusetts, some CCAs even provide an electric energy option that meets state renewable energy standards and includes purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) equivalent to 100% of a ratepayer’s load; such an option creates a larger beneficial impact than either meeting minimum state requirements or simply matching 100% of a ratepayer’s load. See the links below to learn more about RECs.

The definition of 100% renewable differs from state to state because of differences in a given state’s electricity sector regulations. Specifically, the enabling legislation for CCAs and the Joint Powers Agreements (JPAs) differ from state to state and from CCA to CCA. For example, California CCAs have the ability to enter into long-term contracts (15 to 25 years) with local renewable energy developers. This is in contrast to CCAs in several other states where contract terms are often limited to no longer than 24 to 36 months. Such differences in contract terms often result in CCAs with short-term contracts purchasing RECs or comparable instruments in order to confirm an indirect reduction in GHG emissions associated with the purchase of electricity.

RECs, however, might not be associated with local renewable energy generation at all, and may or may not include energy from sources such as nuclear, biomass combustion, large hydro, etc. and which are not uniformly considered renewable energy. In some circumstances, purchase of RECs may have little positive impact on GHG emissions or environmental conditions within the CCA’s territory. Similarly, renewable energy associated with RECs may be generated thousands of miles away and never contribute to the local energy available to ratepayers. Some states, such as California and New York, have instituted regulations limiting such undesirable outcomes and generally only count RECs from renewable generation within the state or region as truly “renewable.”

Along with end-use energy conservation, improved efficiency, and attention to the location of energy generation associated with RECs, procuring 100% renewable electricity is one of the best ways to reduce GHG emissions associated with electric power use. When a member jurisdiction of a CCA program chooses 100% renewable energy as its default electricity option, the entire jurisdiction can make immediate gains on community-wide GHG emissions reduction goals. This represents a significant improvement compared to relying on individual ratepayer decisions to choose a 100% renewable electric energy supply, which is unlikely to achieve the same GHG reduction even after years of opportunity.

Goal: Promote lowest feasible carbon emissions that can meet or beat utility rates as default power product for local CCA jurisdictions, offering options for 100% clean energy

Measurement: Percent of customers of community choice aggregation programs who choose 100% clean power

Time to Implement: The best time for a city or county to choose 100% clean energy as the default choice for its ratepayers is when the jurisdiction joins or starts a CCA


Governor Quinn Announces Illinois is First in the Nation in Renewable Energy Use (2014)

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CleanPowerSF (CA)

Redwood Coast Energy Authority (CA)

Sonoma Clean Power (CA)

Clean Power Alliance Ranked #1 Green Power Provider in Nation by NREL (2022)

Clean Power Alliance (CA)

Brookline Green Electricity (MA)

Newton Power Choice (MA)

Additional Information:

Start a Community Choice Aggregation Program

The Role of Community Choice Aggregators in Advancing Clean Energy Transitions

CCAs accelerate California’s clean energy transition, providing a model for other states

Green by Default

CCA By State | LEAN Energy US

Using Renewable Energy Certificates to Achieve Local Environmental Goals

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)

Renewable Energy Certificates Factsheet – MA

How can a Renewable Energy Product contain more than 100% Renewable Energy Certificates?

Contact Info:

Sectors(s) Community Choice Aggregation, Energy
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Last Updated May 4, 2024
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