We’re seeing it firsthand—a growing enthusiasm for community choice aggregation (CCA) amongst municipal officials and resident volunteers. Several New Hampshire communities have been at the forefront, working to advance this opportunity for many years. In short, CCA Programs provide an alternative option to the long-standing convention of purchasing electricity from your local utility company (Eversource, Liberty, Unitil or the NH Coop). Bolstered by statutory changes ratified over the summer 2021, towns and cities can work individually or collaboratively to create a community buying pool for its residents and small businesses. An increasing number of municipal committees are taking a serious look.
Several important benefits from CCA grab the headlines – moving decision making to the local level, saving money, stabilizing prices, advancing local objectives to support clean energy, and creating options that didn’t exist before. Before we allow ourselves to get swept up by the headlines, we have a few foundational items still to complete. One such item is credit insurance. But wait! Before you turn away with a yawn, let me explain how a dull topic is critical to the success of CCA in New Hampshire.
By law, a CCA program must make its offerings available to all eligible electricity consumers within its geographic territory and all such consumers must be treated equitably. Also understand that a CCA program will be most effective if it can attract interest from several prospective electricity suppliers, all competing aggressively on price and service offerings. Within any community there is always some portion of residents and businesses who have difficulty paying their electricity bills in a timely manner. This introduces a challenge, because the CCA program will require that any prospective supplier must serve all comers, regardless of the risk of customer non-payment. Suppliers’ perceived collections risk could be enough to prevent many suppliers from even bidding to serve CCA programs.
What is a Community Choice Aggregation Program?
- A CCA Program is an optional buying group organized by a municipality or group of municipalities to benefit electric customers
- The Program enters into an electricity supply contract for all residential and business customers currently receiving utility default service within a given municipality.
- Customers are automatically enrolled, unless they opt-out.