Friday, April 21, 2017

LA County to Offer Lower Utilities Rates Through Community Choice Aggregation Programs

In this day and age, as technology continues to advance and resources are stretched thin, energy sources are often on the mind of the common consumer and government entities. Electricity rates have been going up, and even as we search for alternative, green energy options, it can be difficult to make those options affordable. Fortunately, earlier this week, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved a public energy program that gives Southern California Edison customers an alternative, government-backed energy source to purchase from. According to Ivan Penn and Nina Agrawal's article in the L.A. Times, the public energy program is expected to lower individual costs by around 5% and is open to residences and businesses alike.

Not only will the energy program be providing power to customers at a lower cost, it will also be focusing on green energy sources. The county will be able to purchase energy from the market and invest in solar energy projects. Because the community choice aggregation (CCA) programs are government entities, they aren't allowed to make a profit on customer rates, which means they will charge the bare minimum to break even. This is very different from companies like Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric Co., who can charge however much they want.

Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in the L.A. County will be able to enroll in the new CCA program, and many people in other counties could be allowed to as well, depending on local regulations. This new energy plan is expected to revamp the entire electricity industry. Private companies will be forced to find ways to lower prices and bring in green energy sources in order to compete with the government entity. Competition tends to drive down prices and drive up demand, so everyone should be happy in the long run. Some private electricity companies worry that the long-term implications of this project remain to be seen and that we should take things slow before rushing into anything.

All in all, CCA programs seem almost too good to be true. A government program that lowers rates and improves the usage of green energy sources seems like a pipe dream. Yet, with proper planning and careful budgeting, it could work out. Technology is redefining various industries, and to survive, the entire country has to change with it. With the new program, new customers can decide exactly what kind of energy they want: wind, solar, or other resources. By giving people options and lowering costs, customers become loyal and are more willing to face the changes that come with dramatic improvements. As long as the CAAs make sure their budgeting is solid, things should work out, at least for the near future.

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