Jason Caudle, California Choice Energy Authority (CalChoice) Executive Director and City of Lancaster City Manager, discussed his career, the benefits of community choice aggregation (CCA) programs, and CalChoice’s hybrid joint powers authority (JPA) model during the ninth episode of the PublicCEO Report.
Hosted by Tripepi Smith President Ryder Todd Smith, the PublicCEO Report is a video and podcast series in which local government leaders and decision-makers discuss best practices, public policy, perspective on trends and challenges facing local government.
After providing an overview of his background in local government, Caudle discussed how the City of Lancaster became a leader in implementing CCA programs. Creating a CCA program is often considered risky, but the Lancaster City Council and City staff’s entrepreneurial leadership led the City to move forward with intensive research on CCA and ultimately launch their program, the first of its kind in Southern California.
“We were willing to take some of these risks, so that made us unique in the marketplace,” said Caudle. “Then, as we started partnering [with other organizations], we realized that if we join together as a JPA, there could be a solution. It then became an opportunity to scale and benefit members financially, while also allowing staff to merge their efforts.”
The cities of Lancaster and San Jacinto formed CalChoice to help cities in Southern California Edison territory plan and operate CCA programs while minimizing associated costs. Additionally, Lancaster had successfully gone through the CCA-launch process and staff learned a lot along the way, so they wanted to be available for other municipalities who were interested in CCA but might not know how to get started.
Jason also discussed the options local governments have as to how they form a CCA program. Municipalities may choose to join a traditional joint-powers authority (JPA) in which each member has equal voting power. This model reduces risk for members, but also reduces their local control of the program. Alternatively, local governments may choose a hybrid JPA, like CalChoice, in which members receive administrative and regulatory overhead for their program while maintaining local control. A third option is for cities to form their CCA program independently without joining another group, which provides the greatest independence but also increases costs and risk.
“Municipalities have several options for launching a CCA,” said Caudle. “Whether they choose to join a traditional JPA, hybrid JPA or launch on their own depends on their feasibility study as well as the relationship between council, staff and the community and what amount of risk is allowed to happen.”
Jason has been a city manager for 22 years, earning his first city manager role for his hometown, the City of Tehachapi, at 26 years old. After serving the City of Tehachapi for nearly a decade, Jason accepted a vice president role at an investment banking firm, eventually returning to local government as the Assistant City Manager of Lancaster where he has served for over 12 years. He has been the executive director of CalChoice since its launch in 2017.
To watch the full interview, visit publicceo.com/report. Learn more about CalChoice at .