FAQs


Central Coast Power is a consortium of local governments that has formed to explore the feasibility of a Community Choice Energy (CCE) program that could serve San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura County electric utility customers. An Advisory Working Group oversees the CCE effort, including the development of a feasibility study to determine whether CCE is a viable option for the region.
All 27 jurisdictions in the tri-county region currently served by Southern California Edison or Pacific Gas & Electric are included in the Community Choice Energy (CCE) feasibility study. The City of Lompoc is the only jurisdiction in the region that operates its own electric utility and, therefore, is not eligible to participate. The Advisory Working Group is comprised of a subset of these jurisdictions that provide additional feedback during the CCE exploration process. Member jurisdictions include the counties of Santa Barbara (lead agency), San Luis Obispo, and Ventura and the cities of Camarillo, Carpinteria, Moorpark, Ojai, Santa Barbara, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, and Ventura.
Assembly Bill 117 established Community Choice Energy, also known as Community Choice Aggregation, in 2002 to enable local governments to leverage the purchasing power of their residents, businesses, and governmental entities to purchase or generate power for their communities. CCE puts energy purchasing and pricing options into the hands of local decision-makers and allows the community to determine what type of energy mix and programs serve its needs.
No. If CCE is offered, local residents and businesses would continue to receive delivery of electricity from their current electricity provider. The CCE would purchase the actual electricity flowing to your home or business and set the rates for that portion of your electricity bill. All other services (and associated charges) would remain with your current utility who would continue to deliver—and maintain the network of power lines that deliver—the electricity to your home or business, send you a single bill each month showing your electricity supply charges from the CCE and all other charges issued by the utility, and respond to any outages or other service concerns.

No. A CCE is not the same as a City- or municipally owned utility ("muni"). In a muni, a City purchases the electricity transmission and distribution system, i.e., the power lines and related infrastructure, from a utility through what is called a condemnation process. The city also buys the electricity to deliver to homes and businesses and provides all billing and customer service functions. In this case, the muni operates just like an investor-owned utility but reports to their local governing body rather than shareholders.

With CCE, the utility still owns and delivers the electricity through its own power lines, but the CCE purchases electricity on behalf of local electricity customers and sets generation (supply) rates for its customers. In a CCE, customers can opt out of the CCE program if they wish to keep the utility as their electricity provider, which is not the case with a muni.

A CCE typically operates as a non-profit public agency, with a publicly accountable board of directors, that is often created through a joint powers authority made up of participating local governments. Based on the priorities of the communities it serves, the CCE operator can choose what type of electricity to purchase and where the electricity is produced. This means that a CCE program can buy non-polluting, renewable energy and support the local economy by purchasing locally generated energy. A CCE can also offer locally tailored energy programs that encourage energy efficiency and other regional priorities.
A CCE program can create competition in the local energy market where there currently isn't any. The CCE model puts energy purchasing and pricing options into the hands of local decision-makers and allows the community to determine what type of energy mix serves its needs. For example, a CCE may choose to purchase more renewable energy to meet local climate action goals. Because a CCE is a local non-profit, CCE revenues can be reinvested in the community in the form of clean energy projects and incentive programs, both of which can spur local economic opportunities. In many cases, existing CCE programs around the state have been able to offer energy with a higher renewable energy content at rates that are competitive with the existing utility's rates. Lower utility bills can provide financial relief to customers, allowing them to reinvest savings in the local economy. The feasibility study will be essential to determining whether these benefits can be realized in this community.
Establishing CCE usually includes three phases: 1) feasibility evaluation, 2) implementation plan that is submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission, and 3) customer enrollment. As a result, CCE formation requires an initial start-up investment, usually from local jurisdictions. After operation begins, the CCE is self-funded through revenues, and the start-up investment provided by the participating jurisdictions can be paid back. A CCE program is completely revenue-funded, requiring zero tax dollars from customers or participating communities.
Most customers will not notice any change other than the current utility's electric generation charge being replaced by a CCE electricity supply charge on their utility bill. Customers will still receive a single consolidated bill from the existing utility and will continue to contact their utility for any customer service needs. The real difference is that the electricity procured on the customer's behalf is typically cleaner, with fewer greenhouse gas emissions than what is currently offered by the investor-owned utilities. While there is no guarantee, CCE programs also frequently offer lower generation rates than the existing utilities. Customers may also have access to new energy efficiency and other clean energy programs to help make their home or business more efficient and comfortable.
No. Residents and businesses are not required to participate in a community's CCE program and may opt out. Although the CCE provider would become the default electricity service provider for the participating counties and cities, customers will retain the choice to purchase their energy from the existing utility. Customers will have the ability to opt out of a local CCE program, at no cost, 60 days before or after the CCE program begins operation. After that, customers may still opt out for a nominal fee. After opting out, the customer is prohibited from returning to the CCE program for one year.
No. A CCE program does not have the authority to require any local government to make the CCE option available to its residents and businesses. However, residents and businesses can only get the electricity offered by a CCE program if the county or city in which it is located has agreed to participate in the program. Any local government, or individual customer, can choose to remain with the existing utility. A jurisdiction may decide to join a CCE program after the program is established.
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) are important partners in a CCE program. Both are investor-owned utilities that are regulated by the State. Under an agreement with the State, both utilities are guaranteed an annual shareholder return to reliably deliver electricity and to build and maintain power lines. Under CCE, the utilities would continue to deliver electricity, maintain power lines, respond to service outages, and handle customer billing. Per statute (see AB 117 and SB 790), investor-owned utilities must fully cooperate with any community that chooses to form a CCE program.
Yes. Eighty-one cities and counties currently participate in nine California Community Choice Energy (CCE) programs: Seven states, including California, have CCE legislation that allows local governments to offer group purchasing power to their communities. For more information, go to http://www.leanenergyus.org/cca-by-state/.