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This article is republished from GetRealList - please visit their blog to read the complete article.

Another type of secession is playing out right now, right here, which could become a model for the rest of the country.

In 2002, California passed a state law (AB 117) allowing communities to form their own entities to buy electrical power, as so-called Community Choice Aggregations (CCAs). The notion is that CCAs could choose to buy more renewable energy than the existing investor owned utility (IOU) monopolies provide, while those utilities continue to own and maintain the distribution network and billing.

State revenues normally distributed to utility energy efficiency programs, plus the usual charges per kilowatt-hour, would be redirected to the CCAs, enabling them to buy green energy and alleviate the need for building new peak-capacity plants (typically powered by natural gas). Customers are automatically enrolled in the CCAs unless they opt out.

According to the New York Times, the nation’s first test of the concept, in Ohio, has been an unmitigated success with 126 municipalities participating in 67 CCAs, providing power to about 800,000 customers, with only a 5% opt-out rate. The latest supply contract signed by one of the CCAs, the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council, or NOPEC (thank you, Ohio), offers rates 6% lower than the local utility.

In California, however, it’s been a long road for those who have taken it, and none have succeed yet.

San Francisco is very close, with several bids for potential suppliers in hand. It intends to obtain 51% of its electric supply from renewables by 2017–more than double what the ineffectual state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) mandates.

The Kings River Conservation District in the San Joaquin Valley, the farming area that forms the southern part of California’s Central Valley, tried to form a CCA since the law was passed but has essentially given up. It was simply going to cost them too much to fight the opposition of PG&E, the state’s largest utility. With 15 million customers, PG&E has the budget and the lawyers to easily win a pitched battle with a struggling farming community. Instead, Kings River has opted to issue bonds and build its own power plants running on local solar, micro-hydro and biomass resources.

In Marin County, where I live, the effort to create the Marin Energy Authority (MEA) CCA has been under way for six years. The county and all but three cities within it have so far chosen to join the MEA, which is scheduled to sign a power supply contract with Shell Energy North America on February 4. At that point, the majority of the county’s customers would be enrolled in the program, unless they opt out.

The MEA aims to source 25% of its supply from renewables initially, growing to over 60% by 2015, and eventually to 100%.

PG&E has launched a multi-pronged assault on the MEA, feeding sour analysis and misinformation to a grand jury investigating the proposal; creating negative press; sending out a direct mail assault full of distortions under the auspices of a “Common Sense Coalition” (I stapled it to my wall) and sending consultants to represent its views at local government meetings.

With the contract deadline at hand, the battle has intensified as city councils and the county board of supervisors decided whether to remain with the program.

I have followed the MEA since its creation, including brief correspondence with Paul Fenn, who authored the CCA laws, and conversations with local elected officials who support the MEA. Over the last two weeks I showed up at my city council and county meetings to share my view on why it’s imperative for municipalities to take control of their own renewable energy procurement, and I’ve got a meeting scheduled this week with the mayor to explain my reasons in more detail. I consider it my civic duty, and a fulfillment of my resolution to work harder on local solutions.

CCAs are a different sort of secession than the State of Jefferson, but the aims are really the same: to let local communities take advantage of their resources, when their faith in the state has failed.

Smart grid technologies and rooftop solar need not wait for sweeping support from the federal and state levels. Indeed, given the extraordinary fiduciary stress that federal and state governments are under, I don’t believe local communities can afford to wait for it. Local supply is now the name of the game. God bless the child that’s got his own.

Add in “micro-islanding” capabilities, so small services areas can disconnect from the larger grid and get by on their own distributed generation capacity, and you have the seeds of a full-blown renewable power rebellion. I have no doubt that if we pulled out all the stops on local generation capacity, and pumped water up the mountain as storage capacity, that we could get by on our own just fine.

After years of watching my state government fail to meet its renewable energy targets…of watching my utility monopoly stymie the rapid deployment of renewables…of watching the public utilities commission install a torturous obstacle course of red tape in the path of rooftop solar…I’m willing to carry that rebel flag.

Sometimes secession is the only way forward.

This article is republished from GetRealList - please visit their blog to read the complete article.