Brian Pugh: Empowering Our Community With Community Choice Aggregation

Dear Neighbors:brian-pugh-group-cropped

The Croton Library hosted two information sessions over the past month on Sustainable Westchester’s Westchester Power Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program, featuring presentations from Dan Welsh of Sustainable Westchester and Lindsay Audin, Chair of the Village’s Sustainability Committee. The two sessions were filled to capacity, but for those still wishing to learn more, they can watch the presentations in full and review additional backup material by clicking the “Community Choice Aggregation” link on our Village homepage: http://www.crotononhudson-ny.gov

The Village of Croton on Hudson Board of Trustees is considering Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) for our Village. The Westchester Power CCA is a program initiated and implemented by Sustainable Westchester Inc., a nonprofit, on behalf of member municipalities in Westchester County with the approval and oversight of the NYS Public Service Commission, the state’s utility regulator. CCA would enable us to buy electricity in bulk and choose renewable sources to reduce our community’s carbon footprint. 20 Westchester County municipalities are currently participating in CCA, which has saved residents and small businesses money on their electric bills while cutting power plant emissions that contribute to climate change.

Participation in CCA empowers consumers by leveraging the power of bulk purchasing, the competitive bidding process and a level of expertise not available to the typical consumer (the energy service agreement is vetted by attorney and experienced energy brokers). Residents participating in CCA or an ESCo (energy service company) also avoid NY’s 3% sales tax on Con Ed’s delivery bill. The Westchester Power CCA program has secured a low fixed rate for electricity lower that the 2015 Con Edison average price. To date, Westchester Power CCA has saved the average consumer in CCA communities, depending on their electricity usage, $50-$100 per year.

CCA customers also have the right to “opt-out” of the program at any time without penalty and those wishing to preemptively excluded themselves from the program can contact Con Edison at 1-800-752-6633 and request that their account be “blocked” (residents that are currently customers of an ESCo will remain with their current ESCo). CCA only determines the source of the “supply” of our energy. Distribution, including maintenance and management of the electric grid and emergency response, would still remain in the hands of Con Edison.

In addition to protecting consumers CCA protects our environment. As explained by the NYS League of Conservation Voters: “By bringing environmental groups, homeowners, and municipal officials together to make bulk purchases of renewable energy resources, the CCA keeps New York on track to becoming a more environmentally friendly state. The program helps to switch New York State’s energy system from one of burning fossil fuels to one of utilizing cleaner, more renewable, energy.” Similarly, the Sierra Club counseled: “There are also several towns that have not partnered with Sustainable Westchester to permit bulk sale purchases. If you’re in one of these Westchester County communities, you may wish to contact your local legislators about signing onto Community Choice Aggregation and having your communities purchase 100% of your power from renewables.”

Sustainable Westchester’s Westchester Power CCA, through the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates, supports energy from renewable sources (wind, solar, etc.). Each REC ensures that 1 megawatt hour (MWhr) of green power displaces 1 nonrenewable MWhr on the grid. For its work on the Westchester Power CCA, Sustainable Westchester was honored as a New York Environmental Champion by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2016.

Under CCA, Croton could choose 100% renewable power. If all 2,000 eligible Croton customers were enrolled in the green option, that would avoid 5,000 tons of greenhouse gas each year.

All this information and more (such as a factsheet from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)) is available at crotononhudson-ny.gov. Specific questions may also be sent to info@westchesterpower.org.

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