How CCA Happened

Video album of Paul Fenn's speeches on Community Choice Aggregation 

Since ancient Athens, democracy has not worked very well: how to disengage democracy from oligarchy and imperialism, and how to engage people in self-government and community? The modern era inherited this problem as it imitated Athens, and 19th century political theory recycled this question in a negative dialectic between imperial capitalism and nationalistic socialism. Since the Cold War, no progress has been made to cut the Gordian knot.  Lacking any substantively different way forward, modern political discourse is stuck in a sterile dialectic between two false options. Like the Romans, contemporary Americans are turning away from political questions and embracing culture war. A change not merely of values, but of knowledge itself, within democracy, is needed; Community Choice Aggregation was put forward as a way out of this ancient intellectual trap - an attempt to give people the opportunity to be responsible for their needs - by giving them control over energy. The many crises of modernity - endless war, species extinction, nuclear weapons proliferation, drug addiction, mass displacement, mass illiteracy, suicide, corruption, and the like - are all attributable to a common ephiphenomenon - the Enlightenment spinning out of control, and technology out from under democracy. CCA is a foundation upon which to embrace politics through local redefinition of "economics." 

Climate change is an exceptional problem because it cannot be cheated: it is the ultimate test of democracy. The electricity industry is both the main cause of climate change, and the main path to a solution. If you add the 1/3 of all greenhouse gases that power plants cause to the 1/3 of greenhouse gases that could be reduced by electrification by renewable transportation, changing electricity is capable of solving 2/3 of the cause of climate change. Fenn chose CCA as a climate solution, in order to create a forum for making democracy culturally actionable: a "positive dialectic."  

How a Theory Became Real

in order to get past Karl Marx and Milton Friedman
"Paul Fenn is a little-known consultant with an academic bent, but he may be the utility industry’s enemy No. 1. For more than 25 years he’s been pushing the idea that local communities ought to be able to set up their own power agencies to compete with established utilities. Local control, he says, can produce lower rates and greater use of renewable energy. Fenn’s campaign is finally getting traction, especially in green-minded California. His efforts are another disruption to the nation’s once dominant utilities, which have already been diminished by energy deregulation and the proliferation of solar installations. The combination of local power providers and rooftop solar panels last year took an estimated 25 percent of the state’s retail electricity business away from the big, investor-owned utilities. That could rise to 85 percent within about 10 years, regulators say. In other parts of the country, the shift has been slower. Still, hundreds of cities in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Ohio have formed local energy providers. In Westchester County, N.Y., one began in 2016 that serves 20 municipalities, and Governor Andrew Cuomo is keen for more. Boston is poised to start one shortly. At least seven states now allow the programs. “I wanted a solution that harnessed the power of local democracy,” says Fenn, 52."

History of CCA Development

Wrote a theory
"Positive Dialectics" - Univ. of Chicago
Wrote a law
"Municipal Aggregation" (Massachusetts Senate)
Campaigned for laws
Muni. Agg. Laws in Ohio, New Jersey
Took stock of failures and revised legal concept; wrote a municipal Revenue Bond authority to Ffinance renewables & efficiency
"Solar Bonds" - City of San Francisco
Drafted a revised version of the Law
"Community Choice Aggregation 2.0" (California Assembly)
Revised CCA 2.0 regulations
Helped Write CCA Rules & Procedures & Opposed Utility Procurement Plans - California Public Utilities Commission
Reframed concept, wrote local CCA 2.0 implementation ordinance marrying law and revenue bond authority
San Francisco Energy Independence Ordinance
Wrote CCA 2.0 Implementation Plan
City of San Francisco Program Design, Draft Implementation Plan and H Bond Action Plan 
Defended CCA from political attack by energy corporations
Founder, No on Proposition 16 (California Charter Amendment by Pacific Gas & Electric)
Designed CCA 2.0 programs
City of San Francisco In-City Buildout Business Plan
Took stock of failures, criticized disappointing implementations
Interviews, debates, testimony, writing
Adapted CCA 2.0 to Other States
CCA 2.0 Toolkit - New York State Energy Research & Development Authority 
Revised the theory based on lessons learned
"Technical Enlightenment" in Enlightenment in an Age of Destruction

First Layer: Community Choice 1.0 and 2.0 Laws

Massachusetts, Ohio and New Jersey focused on greener energy: California and New York on energy localization

Check Out our Video

It will dazzle you with its movement of things.

Second Layer: Municipal Solar Bonds

To finance local renewables and energy efficiency on residences, businesses and government buildings

San Francisco City Charter Amendment

Observing the failure of early CCAs to localize energy, Fenn drafted a new charter amendment, adding to CCA the authority to use revenue bonds to finance local renewables and energy efficiency measures on homes, businesses and government facilities.

Proposition H - Solar Bonds - the "Campaign for Solar Neighborhoods"

Local Power political director Julia Peters ran the campaign for Proposition H in San Francisco, with Fenn on the Steering Committee. Prop H was approved by voters in November, 2001.

Third Layer: Municipal Ordinance
Combining CCA and Solar Bonds

The "Energy Independence" Ordinance Defined the CCA 2.0 Program Design:
Meet or Beat the Utility Rate with a Financed Local Renewables/Efficiency Buildout

Ordinance 86-04 ordered CCA and Solar Bonds as one structure with rates meeting or beating the utility rates

Adopted by San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2004

It defined the program & ordered a citywide multi-hundred million $ build-out of renewables & efficiency on homes, businesses & government

Outlined a new "CCA 2.0" business model

Fourth Layer: Defending CCA Against Political and Regulatory Attack by Utilities

Ballot Box, Legislature and State Regulator

Fenn formed and ran campaign to defeat PG&E's statewide plebiscite to stop CCA

PG&E spent $46M on Prop 16 but was defeated in 2010

Fenn was the lead intervenor in the California regulator's two-year proceeding on CCA rules&procedures

Rulemaking 03-10-003 decided key elements for CCA 2.0 like data access
Fifth Layer and Major Focus 2008-18: Designing CCA 2.0 Programs
From 2008 to 2014, Fenn led a team of experts to create the original program designs and analytics for CCA 2.0 
Multi-year projects in San Francisco, Sonoma County and San Luis Obispo created comprehensive program designs to localize energy supply: regional surveys, renewable distributed generation & storage design, data collection & analysis, GIS, energy cost model & financial models, policy and regulatory reports, permitting reports, risk analyses, budget estimates, contract analyses, customer phase-in schedules, business plans, term sheets and RFPs. 
"(Fenn's) plan, built on an incredible quantity of data, is about the most granular and complete map of CCA's radical potential to transform a city's energy footprint as has ever been produced"
Truthout - August 2013
"If successful, these programs will be world leaders in climate action and green power development," said Paul Fenn, the chief executive of a San Francisco-based company, Local Power Inc., who wrote the original 2002 legislation that opened the door for local communities to procure their own power." 
The New York Times - December, 2009
Local Power Plans, Business Case, Feasibility Studies, Resource Surveys
Localization Portfolio Standard
Boulder, Colorado
Climate Action Plan
Sonoma County, California
76% Localization
Marin County, California
Load Shape Analysis
City of San Francisco
Meter to Substation Analysis
City of San Francisco
Business Model
City of San Francisco
Transition Optimization
City of San Francisco
Regulatory Analysis
City of San Francisco

Seventh Layer: Spreading CCA 2.0 Gospel
in States with CCA Laws or Legislation

Targeted activists already focused on energy localization as a goal.

New England

Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island


New York, New Jersey


California, Colorado, Montana, Arizona


Ohio, Illinois