What is Community Choice energy?

Community Choice energy programs are programs that exist in six U.S. states that allow local communities to take control of the decision-making about the sources of their electrical power. In California, Community Choice was made possible by state legislation enacted in 2002, Assembly Bill 117.

What can Community Choice energy programs do?

Community Choice energy programs enable cities and counties to procure electricity and reduce energy consumption for residents and local businesses. The most powerful aspect of Community Choice is that communities decide where their electricity will come from: is it fossil and nuclear, or solar and wind? Other decisions include whether to purchase electricity on the market, or more importantly, to develop local renewable energy resources in the community. Under a Community Choice energy program, the utility company continues to deliver and service the electricity.

What are the potential benefits of a Community Choice energy program?

Community Choice is one of the most powerful tools available to local governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cutting energy consumption, switching to renewable energy sources, and building local renewable electricity generation. By developing local clean energy resources, Community Choice programs can spur local economic development in the community, provide good local clean energy jobs, offer competitive electric bills and price stability, reduce pollution, and provide other community benefits. It can serve as a significant step toward a more resilient and sustainable economy.

There are two Community Choice energy programs in the state and dozens of other communities are evaluating such programs.

Visit their websites to learn more. Many common questions about Community Choice are answered on their FAQs. Marin Clean Energy was the first to launch in 2010.  Sonoma Clean Power launched on May 1 2014. Other cities and counties seriously investigating Community Choice include:

  • Arcata
  • Lancaster
  • Mendocino County
  • Monterey County
  • Mountain View
  • Napa County
  • Riverside County
  • San Benito County
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Santa Barbara
  • Santa Cruz County
  • SF East Bay
  • Sunnyvale
  • …and many more

A national organization was formed in 2011 to help start Community Choice programs in the six states that already have the enabling law, and to help new states to enact Community Choice law. It’s called the Local Energy Aggregation Network, or LEAN Energy US.


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