All posts by Molly May

Community Choice Aggregation: A Legislative Path to Energy Freedom

Community Choice Aggregation is an energy freedom program that permits a community to directly access the competitive market to procure power from the energy supplier they choose. This is in contrast to much of Colorado’s current situation in which a monopoly utility (in Boulder this is Xcel) is granted exclusive rights as a region’s energy supplier by the state. The benefits of a free energy market are many; competitive markets can lead to lower rates, the ability to choose sustainably generated power, and the ability to invest in local solutions which create jobs and keeps money in the local economy. CEA endorses policies for energy freedom, and fortunately, local legislators and non-profits like Energy Freedom Colorado are working to make a path to energy freedom for Colorado.

To give you a better understanding of how it works, let’s begin with the power grid. The three main components of a power grid are energy generation, transmission (of electricity over long distances from power plants to local substations), and distribution (of electricity from a substation to the consumer). Community choice aggregation (CCA) is a cooperation between municipal utilities and investor-owned utilities (IOU) in which the municipal CCA purchases power independently, but the transmission, distribution, and customer interface are maintained by the local IOU as shown below. CCAs served about 3.3 million people in 2016 and are growing rapidly in the eight states where they have been legalized, allowing municipalities in these states to choose their power sources in a way that reflects the values of their community, which include factors like cost, environmental impact, and supporting local energy businesses.

Graphic from National Renewable Energy Labs website

To implement CCA in Colorado, our legislature would need to enact CCA legislation, and the Public Utility Commission (PUC) would need to adopt corresponding rules and regulations. Several structural aspects of Colorado’s electricity grid could make this process more complicated than it has been for other states. For example, most states with CCA had already restructured their IOU to make separate companies for power generation and delivery, which simplifies the process of transitioning to municipally controlled power generation. Further, Colorado is not part of a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO), which is an independent, non-profit operator of a large, integrated transmission grid. Instead, each region’s transmission lines are controlled by the local utility, which complicates the task of transporting power from the generation site across a number of independently owned transmission systems to the municipality. Despite the challenges, we can overcome these obstacles and make the change. If you would like to learn more or help move Colorado forward, here are some links for you:

For general background information:
NREL: https://www.nrel.gov/state-local-tribal/blog/posts/community-choice-aggregation-cca-helping-communities-reach-renewable-energy-goals.html
LEAN: http://leanenergyus.org/cca-by-state/
EPA: https://www.epa.gov/greenpower/community-choice-aggregation

For Colorado specific information and/or to get involved in Colorado’s policy efforts:
EFC: http://energyfreedomco.org/

Xcel-Denver MOU: Likely to Serve Xcel’s Goals More Than Denver’s Goals

In late February 2018, Xcel and Denver signed a Memorandum of Understanding, or “MOU” that was touted as a way for Denver to work towards its goal of a 100% renewable energy. Clean Energy Action took a close look at the MOU and found that the substance did not match the hype. A summary of that analysis is below and the full analysis is attached.

A key goal of the analysis is to help Denver advocates recognize the limits of the MOU so as to better advocate for a cleaner energy future and for advocates in other communities to begin to better understand what is happening when their City representatives are talking about signing an MOU with Xcel.

Summary of the Analysis of the Xcel-Denver MOU

The Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Denver and Xcel (Public Service Company of Colorado or PSCo) executed in late February 2018 is primarily a document of lofty statement, but is non-binding and contains no commitments from Xcel to reduce the carbon intensity of their electricity and move to a high level of renewable energy. Rather, the MOU could easily serve to distract the City of Denver and its residents from efforts to decarbonize their electricity and even could be used by Xcel to entice the City of Denver into supporting Xcel’s proposals at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission that are very likely not what most Denver residents and businesses would support if they understood them.

Find the full analysis here.

Watch Tony Seba’s Address After Receiving Clean Energy Action’s 10th Anniversary Sunshine Award!

Clean Energy Action was founded more than a decade ago on the principle that education and empowering community action is the key to accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy and resilient economy. While technological and important regulatory challenges persist, the true challenge comes in mobilizing the knowledge we have at our disposal and implementing it throughout our communities and our marketplaces.

Clean Energy Action has traditionally recognized our amazing supporters and advocates for all they personally do for people and planet. Our 10th Anniversary Sunshine Award acknowledges these individuals who have made significant contributions in the dissemination of new ideas, technologies and concepts and who, like the sun, take the light and heat of human ingenuity and help it to find its way out of academic journals and laboratories and into the mainstream of our culture and economy.

We at CEA could think of no one more deserving of this honor than Mr. Tony Seba. As the author of several books, including Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation and Solar Trillions, as an educator at Stanford University, and as a leader in business and technology, Tony Seba exemplifies the qualities we seek to recognize with this award. Mr. Seba’s work has aided the cause of sustainability immeasurably, both by shedding light on the progress that has been made and by helping to illuminate the way forward, and it is in recognition of this work that we are honored to name or friend and sustainability champion the recipient of the 2017 Clean Energy Action Sunshine Award.

Thanks to Martin Voelker with the Colorado Renewable Energy Society, you can watch Tony Seba’s keynote address here.

Congratulations and our deepest gratitude to Tony Seba for traveling to Boulder to receive CEA’s 10th Anniversary Sunshine Award and  for his inspiring work.

CEA’s Soirée was only the beginning of Tony’s trip– He also led a Transportation Strategy Session on Friday June 9, with over 30 regional government & transportation representatives hosted by CEA and the Alliance for a Sustainable Colorado.

Abundant thanks to everyone who contributed to the event! This opportunity would not have been possible without the work and generosity of our host committee, the CU Museum of Natural History, Hunter Lovins, the CU Environmental Center, and everyone who showed up to support CEA.

Support Our Work for a Better Energy Future!

Watch Tony Seba’s Address After Receiving Clean Energy Action’s 10th Anniversary Sunshine Award!

 

Clean Energy Action was founded more than a decade ago on the principle that education and empowering community action is the key to accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy and resilient economy. While technological and important regulatory challenges persist, the true challenge comes in mobilizing the knowledge we have at our disposal and implementing it throughout our communities and our marketplaces.

Clean Energy Action has traditionally recognized our amazing supporters and advocates for all they personally do for people and planet. Our 10th Anniversary Sunshine Award acknowledges these individuals who have made significant contributions in the dissemination of new ideas, technologies and concepts and who, like the sun, take the light and heat of human ingenuity and help it to find its way out of academic journals and laboratories and into the mainstream of our culture and economy.

We at CEA could think of no one more deserving of this honor than Mr. Tony Seba. As the author of several books, including Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation and Solar Trillions, as an educator at Stanford University, and as a leader in business and technology, Tony Seba exemplifies the qualities we seek to recognize with this award. Mr. Seba’s work has aided the cause of sustainability immeasurably, both by shedding light on the progress that has been made and by helping to illuminate the way forward, and it is in recognition of this work that we are honored to name or friend and sustainability champion the recipient of the 2017 Clean Energy Action Sunshine Award.

Thanks to Martin Voelker and the Colorado Renewable Energy Society, you can watch Tony Seba’s keynote address here.

Congratulations and our deepest gratitude to Tony Seba for traveling to Boulder to receive CEA’s 10th Anniversary Sunshine Award and  for his inspiring work.

CEA’s Soirée was only the beginning of Tony’s trip– He also led a Transportation Strategy Session on Friday June 9, with over 30 regional government & transportation representatives hosted by CEA and the Alliance for a Sustainable Colorado.

Abundant thanks to everyone who contributed to the event! This opportunity would not have been possible without the work and generosity of our host committee, the CU Museum of Natural History, Hunter Lovins, the CU Environmental Center, and everyone who showed up to support CEA.

Support Our Work for a Better Energy Future!

Get Your Pass to Solar Power Colorado Today

INNOVATION: MAKING SOLAR MAINSTREAM

When:  March 13-17, 2017

Where:  The Omni Hotel and Conference Center in Broomfield, Colorado

The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association has been leading the state’s dynamic solar industry for 27 years. Over that time we have experienced massive success, unprecedented growth and had much cause to celebrate.

More information and conference schedule here!

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