ORIGINAL REPORTING: CCAs And New Energy
As CCAs take over utility customers, local renewable generation emerges as the next big growth driver; The demand for customer choice has the potential to quicken the power system's transition toward cheaper, cleaner electricity, and is moving beyond California.
Herman K. Trabish, Oct. 8, 2019 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: All the tensions of load disaggregation – AND all the opportunities – remain.
On the heels of an explosion of customer choice in California over the last three years, the slowly growing aggregation market in Massachusetts is accelerating. In New York, a new version of aggregation is emerging. Customers in traditional markets like Illinois and Ohio are looking for new services from their aggregators. And national community choice aggregation (CCA) organizations want to bring the choice to more states.
CCAs led by municipal governments were created to leverage the buying power of large groups of electricity users to get lower electricity prices and meet other customer demands. In deregulated power market states, the newest aggregations are demanding the power sector meet grassroots customer demand for renewable, distributed and — increasingly — local generation.
"Customers want more choice and more ways to green the grid, and aggregations offer both," Shawn Marshall, executive director of national aggregation advocacy group LEAN Energy, told Utility Dive. "Overturning the status quo is not easy, but we are seeing a lot of interest."
In states with legislation that enables aggregation, momentum is growing. Aggregation's popularity is softening utility resistance. Renewables developers' initial concerns about its creditworthiness are transmuting into commitments to make deals happen. One conflict aggregation still must face is the gap between the power system's reliance on bulk and diversitfied generation and the dream of a power system comprised entirely of local resources.
Aggregation of investor-owned utility (IOU) customers is often called "public power lite" because responsibility for the delivery infrastructure and billing remain with the IOU but, like a publicly owned utility, the aggregation's generation mix is selected, controlled by and priced to the needs of customers instead of the utility business. Aggregation has so far been done only in states with fully or partially deregulated power markets, where generation can be purchased from retail electricity providers (REPs) or independent power providers.
The ultimate objective is CCA version 3.0, Fenn and Marshall said. In version 1.0, aggregations rely largely on market power, renewable energy certificates (RECs), and streamlined operations to lower utility bills. Around year three, aggregations begin version 2.0 by offering programs and incentives for zero emissions electricity. So far, version 3.0 is only partially realized, and only in California, Fenn said… click here for more