5 Questions: Jeff Domanski

Jeff Domanski (Photo provided)

By Brian PJ Cronin

Jeff Domanski, who lives in Beacon, is the program director of Hudson Valley Energy, a nonprofit that is helping administer a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program. He will host an information session at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Desmond-Fish Library in Garrison.

Beacon, Cold Spring, Philipstown, Fishkill, Poughkeepsie and Marbletown will band together in 2019 to buy electricity on behalf of residents and small businesses. What is the benefit?
The electricity can be cheaper than with a utility and it’s also from renewable sources, so we’re getting cleaner energy. It has a significant public benefit. You’re not just helping yourself, you’re bringing your neighbors with you. There’s a lot of folks who, just because we’re all so busy, haven’t thought about this. And typically you pay a premium for clean energy.

Where will the energy come from?
Under the most recent version of the state dictate on CCAs, it has to come from within the state or from a bordering state. That’s where the REC [Renewable Energy Credit] purchases come from, which form the bulk of the CCA’s purchase power. It’s essentially a buying club. You get a bunch of people together and you get a better price.

How is this different from an energy supply company [ESCO] often pitched by people at farmers’ markets or on the street?
With an ESCO, a customer usually signs an individual agreement, and there is a blend of options. Some ESCOs just sell cheaper energy, and many sell RECs for green energy. There are typically penalties if you want out early. One reason the state is supporting CCAs is consumer protection. There have been a number of ESCO customers who have been subjected to ballooning rates, sometimes paying as much as three times the utility average. With a CCA, where the agreement is with municipalities, it’s 99 percent likely to be a fixed rate for the duration, which will probably be two to five years.

Everyone in the six villages and cities will be added to the program automatically but can leave if they want. Why would someone opt out?
There can be fluctuations in price, but only when the contract renews because the suppliers lock in the price based on how many people are participating.

Does the price go down if more municipalities join?
There’s more buying leverage, but you’re aiming for a sweet spot. Once you have more than about 100,000 residential and business accounts, the price doesn’t get much better and it can lead to some trepidation from suppliers, who may not be willing to take a price risk with a bigger marketplace.

3 Responses to "5 Questions: Jeff Domanski"

  1. Sara Dulaney   December 14, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    Hooray!

  2. Jeff Domanski   December 15, 2018 at 8:47 am

    Thanks for spreading the word about the Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) energy-savings program in the Highlands. Anyone who has more questions can email me at cca@hudsonvalleyenergy.org or call 845-859-9099.

    I wanted to clarify one question and response, when The Current asked why a resident or business might opt out. First, not everyone is automatically included when a CCA program launches: anyone who already has a contract to receive their electricity from an energy supply company (ESCO) is excluded. Second, to clarify, the price the CCA pays for the energy will not fluctuate as the supply price from Central Hudson does. Also, everyone in the CCA remains a Central Hudson customer for the distribution of the energy to their homes and businesses and will still have their billing and service disruption repairs handled by Central Hudson.

    Our program, which is administered by JouleCommunity, also will incorporate local clean-energy projects (e.g., from solar, and small hydropower projects), which can provide additional savings that eventually will be credited on individual utility bills. To me, this is a gamechanger because it will greatly increase demand for supply from local clean-energy projects, advancing the market and creating local jobs. Participation in the local clean-energy part of the CCA program will occur on a first-come, first-served basis within each community.

    What happens next? The participating communities are working on an agreement that will include the prices and supply mix of the proposal that will be issued for supplier bids. When a proposal is chosen, there will be a period of at least 30 days where people can opt out before the program begins. When that ends, meters are read and customers begin paying the CCA rate. However, anyone can opt out of the program with no penalty at any time.

  3. Raymond Bokhour   December 17, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    This is wonderful news. Thanks to all those who’ve worked to make it happen. Spread the word here and around the nation!