Have your say . . .

Silvia Zinetti is well known to many of us who have been working in and around Brussels. Last year she moved to the San Diego area but has continued to work in the field of sustainable energy and wrote a post for EiD last summer. She is very involved with many local groups encouraging sustainable energy at the local level. Recently Silvia attended a symposium in San Jose, California and here are her reflections. No doubt we’ll be hearing more from Silvia.


Reflections on The Business of Local Energy Symposium

Creating the Clean Energy Economy, Optimizing Community Choice

Clean, local energy is imperative for cities and communities of the future. Which resources are available at local level to finance the transition toward sustainable energy? How to achieve it in a fast and efficient way? These and many other questions where brought into discussion during the Business of Clean Energy Symposium, an all-day event on how to accelerate California’s shift to a clean energy economy. The Symposium was organized on March 4 in San Jose, California, by the Center for Climate Protection, a nonprofit organization which mission is “to inspire, align, and mobilize action in response to the climate crisis”.

Local governments can play a key role in the sustainable energy transition. More specifically, Community Choice Energy (CCE), also known as Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), is an innovative tool available for municipalities and group of them, to aggregate their local residents and businesses energy requirements, and serve them by procuring electricity on their behalf.

Being a nonprofit agency, Community Choice Energy allows reinvesting the profits of the electricity sales into renewable energy and energy efficiency projects at the local level. Three CCE programs in California are already up and running: Marin Clean Energy, Sonoma Clean Power, and Lancaster Choice Energy. They proved to be successful and are leading the way toward a faster uptake from other cities and counties wishing to do so. CCE benefits both cities and their residents/businesses. Cities have access to financial resources to support renewable energy development locally, and residents have the choice to buy green electricity, or to opt-out the program and return to the incumbent utility.

The symposium brought together a different variety of stakeholders: from City Mayors, local businesses, non-profit organizations, to California Public Utility Commission and California Independent System Operator. The panel discussion was excellent and provided update information on policy, regulations, markets, and technology. The breakout panels & discussion group focused on narrower topics and facilitated the exchange of ideas on how to improve future CCEs.

It seems it will be just about time that several other cities and counties in California will start CCEs and will provide their residents and businesses with a green choice. How fast will this process be? And what if other cities and communities around the world will adopt this model? Just some thoughts for future discussions.

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