Letter: Too Good to be True?

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That is how I see the Philipstown Town Board’s foray into Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). Under the CCA, which the Town Board approved unanimously, Philipstown will join other communities to purchase electricity for its residents from an Energy Service Company (ESCO).

The board has been told by an energy industry consultant that if it joins forces with other local communities, it will have the leverage to get cheap, fixed-rate, green power from an ESCO, beating out what Central Hudson can offer. The reality is that the ESCO industry in New York is rife with fraud and deceptive sales practices and ESCOs regularly charge more than utilities. With respect to green energy, there just isn’t enough supply to go around, which is what a CCA in Westchester recently discovered.

Most of us recognize that global warming is the single greatest threat we face, but false promises in slick marketing presentations are not solutions. At best, the CCA will be a disappointment. At worst, it will be a quagmire for the town.

Diana Hird, Cold Spring

3 thoughts on “Letter: Too Good to be True?

  1. Electric bills were not really a problem until all the wonderful Powers That Be in Albany decided we should have a choice in terms of who we should be able to purchase electricity from. Since then, an additional surcharge, a service and delivery charger was added onto our electric bills. This was because Central Hudson would still be responsible for the delivery and maintenance of thee local power infrastructure. Prior to our “freedom of choice” there was no such surcharge. Now the monthly surcharge is greater than my usage. In effect, my bill has more than doubled.

  2. This letter makes a number of unsupported claims and disparages with local CCA efforts without providing any specifics about the shortcomings the author believes such efforts possess, or how they might be remedied.

    If there is a flaw in the plan to purchase solar and wind generated electricity through a bulk-buying program, let’s see what it is and then how we can remedy it.

    Some things are not too good to be true. Some things simply fall into the category of good decisions.

    • When we buy electricity, we have no control over the source of the power flowing through the transmission lines into our homes. That is determined by the New York Independent System Operator.

      Philipstown’s Community Choice Aggregation program does not change that. When Philipstown says that its CCA will buy green energy, it doesn’t mean that green energy will flow through the transmission lines to Philipstown residents. It means that CCA participants will pay a surcharge to buy a certificate called a REC.

      A REC is a certificate sold by a green-energy producer for each kWh of clean energy generated. What does the buyer get in return? Simply the right to say, on paper, that it bought green energy, even though it didn’t. That’s it.

      Who would want to spend money for that? A large corporation that wants to say it uses 100 percent green energy in a public relations campaign (Whole Foods, for example). Some utilities need to say they transmit a certain amount of green energy under state law.

      The intent of RECs was to support new green-energy infrastructure. Unfortunately, the price of a REC is so low that it has had little to no benefit. In fact, an argument can be made that it discourages green infrastructure investment by giving people a false sense of accomplishment.

      RECs are virtual green energy, not real green energy. The current CCA plan is buying into this virtual game for no reason.