Villages, Town Join CCA, Again

Residents will be automatically enrolled in electricity program

Cold Spring, Nelsonville and Philipstown last week each signed onto a program that enables municipalities to collectively purchase electricity for residents and businesses, often at lower rates than those offered by Central Hudson.

The village and town boards voted to join Hudson Valley Community Power, a community choice aggregation (CCA) administered by Joule Assets. In Cold Spring, the board chose as the default for its residents and businesses a fixed rate sourced by 100 percent renewable energy produced in New York state; in Nelsonville and Philipstown, the boards chose a fixed rate with a mix of state and national renewable sources. 

Each contract is for two years, ending on June 30, 2025, according to filings on Wednesday (April 5) by Joule with the state Department of Public Service.

The renewable option with only New York state sources is the most expensive fixed rate, at 12.24 cents per kilowatt-hour, and non-renewables, or “standard,” the least expensive, at 9.87 cents. The renewable option with 50 percent New York sources is 11.24 cents. The prices are the same for residential and business customers. By comparison, the average residential rate from Central Hudson in 2022 was 11.95 cents for residential and 12.55 cents for businesses, according to Joule.

Residents and small businesses will be enrolled in the CCA program automatically in June but can opt out at any time or switch between options. 

Glenn Weinberg of Joule Assets told the Cold Spring Village Board last week that a fixed rate was the best bet because wholesale electricity prices are expected to rise after the summer, and that a much colder winter is expected.

“The fixed rate feels like a more stable option right now,” agreed Mayor Kathleen Foley. She also spoke in favor of purchasing electricity solely from renewable sources. “Recreating the old grid with large transmission stands is nuts,” she said. “We should be looking locally and building as much local resiliency and capacity as possible.” 

A previous CCA agreement fell apart last summer when the supplier, Columbia Utilities, defaulted on its three-year contract. More than 23,000 households and businesses in 10 municipalities, including Beacon, Cold Spring and Philipstown, benefited from fixed rates that were usually lower than those offered by Central Hudson.

Members of the CCA were receiving electricity generated from renewable sources for 6.6 cents per kilowatt-hour for households and 7.1 cents for businesses. Compared to Central Hudson’s variable rate, that saved members of the collective more than $7 million during the year the contract was in place (including $941,380 in Philipstown, $216,050 in Cold Spring and $651,800 in Beacon) and avoided 25,560 metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions, according to Joule.

CCA Rates

When Columbia withdrew, residents and businesses who hadn’t opted out were transferred back to Central Hudson as a supplier. Joule, along with Beacon and seven other municipalities, has sued Columbia for damages.

Hudson Valley Community Power will work the same as in the past, with Central Hudson handling distribution and billing, Joule CEO Jessica Stromback said last month. Letters will be sent in May to Cold Spring, Nelsonville and Philipstown residents explaining how to initially opt out, she said.

The City of Beacon chose not to rejoin the CCA, which Joule hopes will have 33 members, including 13 from the Hudson Valley.

The automatic enrollment contributed to Beacon’s decision because it generated complaints, according to City Administrator Chris White. In addition, after being approached by Joule at the end of 2022, White said city officials were unsure whether the company would be able to find a fixed-rate supplier who could beat Central Hudson’s variable rate, given ongoing global instability.

Beacon hopes to instead explore a “community-distributed generation” model, or community solar, which is awaiting approval from the state Public Service Commission, White said last month. That model would allow residents to “subscribe” to locally generated renewable energy and receive credits on their Central Hudson bills.

Stromback said last month that its criteria for electricity providers has become stricter to keep a breakup with its supplier from repeating itself. The stress test for a new electricity partner “is whether they can handle a wartime situation,” she said, referring to Russia’s invasion last year of Ukraine, which caused energy prices to soar.

Michael Turton, Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong and Jeff Simms contributed reporting.

One thought on “Villages, Town Join CCA, Again

  1. This sounds like a great idea. How will you know that the power that flows into your house or business is from renewable sources? The thing that I object to is that my local government signed me up without asking. I believe they acted with good intentions doing it this way, but… this should work the other way around. That I would have the option to opt in, not opt out. Did we not we try this as a town and village already with disastrous results. I am not fond of this idea of government doing what’s best for me. What’s next? That they will sign me up for? Gas, food, insurance, another vaccine or whatever is the latest and greatest thing that’s deemed by others that’s good for me. We should be given the choice to make a informed decision on our own. It would be nice if there was a link included where we could opt out, but there is not. Now you will have to scour your mail until you get the opt-out form. Last time we never got one and had to jump through hoops to get it.

Leave a Reply

The Current welcomes comments on its coverage and local issues. All online comments are moderated, must include your full name and may appear in print. See our guidelines here.