A CCA is a legal entity, usually a joint powers authority, formed by one or more counties, cities or towns for the purpose of purchasing power on behalf of the residents and businesses within their boundaries. The incumbent utility, which no longer provides the electricity, still remains responsible for transmitting and distributing the power, as well as for billing, collections and other customer services. Laws enabling this structure have been passed in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island.
In California, CCAs are subject to the same renewable procurement targets as investor-owned utilities under the state renewable portfolio standard program. State law requires at least 50% of retail electricity sales come from qualifying source by 2025. However, in reality, CCAs strive for even higher levels of renewables by offering customers the option to purchase electricity that has a 100% renewable energy content. The default power mix offered by IOUs is currently around 32% renewable.
There are now 19 operational CCA programs in California, with at least 15 more communities in various stages of planning.