The guest opinion by Gerald Braun on Aug. 16, titled “Community choice electricity is a better way to meet 21st century challenges”, merits elaboration on why Community Choice Energy (CCE) should be enabled for all Colorado communities that are served by a monopoly investor-owned utility. CCE allows a community to procure its electricity from alternative suppliers if it so chooses, thereby introducing competition into the wholesale electricity sector. Individuals may opt out of the CCE and buy their electricity from the utility if they wish.
Marin Clean Energy, California’s first CCE, offers a 100% renewable energy rate plan that is cheaper than the utility’s 31% renewable product, inclusive of the “exit fee” paid to the utility to ensure that departing CCE customers do not raise rates for the remaining utility customers. It sure would be nice if Colorado communities could choose 100% renewable energy and get it at lower cost, and soon!
Unlike municipalization, CCE only involves choosing the electricity source, while the utility continues to own and operate the “poles and wires” and manage billing and customer service. CCE does not involve the expense and headaches of owning and operating an electricity distribution system. It’s more of a partnership with the utility.
Another advantage of CCE is the community’s freedom to implement their own energy programs. In California, CCEs are laboratories of innovation that learn from each other.
The Public Utilities Commission is currently studying how CCE might work best in Colorado, as directed by House Bill 21-1269. CCE is enormously successful and growing quickly in California, and we can learn a great deal from their experience.
Communities, organizations, and individuals should let their leaders and legislators know that they want Community Choice Energy enabled as a wholesale electricity option in Colorado.
Larry Miloshevich, Lafayette, worked with Rep. Edie Hooton on HB21-1269.