The letter from Diana Hird regarding Philipstown joining a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) to purchase electricity included a number of unsupported claims (Too good to be true?, April 21). It disparages 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 how we can remedy it.
Some things are not too good to be true. Some things simply fall into the category of good decisions.
James Geppner, Cold Spring
Over the past year, we have been working to organize a CCA initiative in our local communities. We formed Renewable Highlands, a nonprofit, for this sole purpose. (It is a fiscally sponsored project of the Open Space Institute’s Citizen Action Program.)
We’re Philipstown residents who want to save money on our electricity bills and get more of our energy from clean, renewable sources.
By setting up a CCA locally, we — you, your neighbors, us — can increase our leverage in the energy markets and buy cheaper electricity. Communities in Westchester have already done it, and they’ve cut their bills by nearly 10 percent. Any individual that does not want to participate can opt out at any time.
New York is the seventh state to authorize CCA. Electricity markets vary from state to state. What works in one state might not work elsewhere. That’s why New York started with a pilot program in Westchester County.
Joule Assets, a firm founded by Michael Gordon, played a key role in establishing that pilot program. They organized municipalities and ran a competitive bidding process for electricity supply. The municipalities selected the supplier with the best pricing and terms.
The New York State Public Service Commission has since issued a framework for other communities to form CCA programs. It requires passage of a local enabling law, identification of an administrator, and approval of implementation and outreach plans. No municipality is committed to participating until after they know the bid results.
The Village of Cold Spring, the Town of Philipstown, the Town of Fishkill and the City of Beacon have all passed laws that enable — but do not require — participation in CCA. These municipalities are leading the way to more green energy and lower cost electricity for their constituents.
After comparing potential candidates, we recommended Joule Assets as administrator. We believe it offers the best value and were most interested in creating an innovative CCA with the goal of transforming a community’s energy culture. Since it played a key role in making the pilot program a success, we thought it would have the best chance at replicating those results here.
CCA is a tool for municipalities. They define the criteria in the competitive bidding process, they decide the winner and they decide the best way to move forward. The bottom line is our public leaders decide whether this program is right for their communities. These four municipalities have demonstrated their interest and their leadership by passing local laws.
It’s taken Renewable Highlands over a year to get to this point. Still, this is just the start. Over the coming months, we look forward to engaging our community members in a discussion about the benefits of creating a CCA in our community.
Michael Rauch and Jason Angell, Philipstown
Rauch is the project director of Renewable Highlands. Angell is a member of its advisory board and director of the Ecological Citizen’s Project.