The Pueblo City Council has given its support to study a local energy model that aims to expand consumer choice in markets.

A resolution brought forth by Councilman Larry Atencio was approved by the council unanimously.

In February 2017, Atencio was behind a resolution approved by the council that declared the city's intent to obtain 100% of the community's electric energy through renewable energy resources by 2035. In January 2018, the City Council authorized the city's membership in the Compact of Colorado communities. The mission of the Compact is to develop and implement aggressive climate change and clean energy initiatives in Colorado.

The resolution approved by council members on Monday night asserts the city's support for studying Community Choice Energy, also commonly known as Community Choice Aggregation.

CCE is a strategy to expand consumer choice, lower electricity rates and introduce competition into the wholesale electricity market to meet state and local environmental goals, according to the resolution.

The program allows local governments to procure power on behalf of their residents, businesses and municipal accounts from an alternative supplier while still receiving transmission and distribution service from their existing utility provider. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, CCAs are an attractive option for communities that want more local control over their electricity sources, more green power than is offered by their utility, and/or lower electricity prices.

CCAs are authorized in California, Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.

A CCE study bill has been introduced in the Colorado state Legislature that would authorize two independent studies — a financial and technical feasibility study conducted by a third-party and overseen by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, and a PUC informational docket with stakeholder input.

City officials said those studies would provide the information needed to determine whether the promise of CCE for Colorado's energy and economic future has merit.

The council received a presentation about CCE at a recent work session.

The passage of this resolution has no financial implications for the city at this time.

The issue of electric utility service has been at the forefront of the City Council for some time now as the city continues to discuss whether it should take the off-ramp from Black Hills Energy and form its own municipal electric utility.

rseverance@chieftain.com

Twitter: @RyanSevvy