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Info on Community Choice Aggregation – Take Action To Make It A Reality

January 22, 2016

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Take Action!

Please ask the Croton Village Board of Trustees to PASS the Resolution to allow residents and small businesses to participate in Westchester’s Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) Program at its Feb. 1 meeting.  The deadline for participation is NOW!

Position Statement

We, the undersigned, respectfully urge the Croton Board of Trustees (BOT) to approve Croton’s participation in Westchester’s CCA Program.  The BOT has participated in review of the CCA for several years, and already adopted the local law required for participation in 2015.  The next step is to PASS the Resolution to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and approve Croton’s participation in the CCA BEFORE the bid is put out and the contract signed – this cost-saving opportunity will be lost once the bidding process has begun.  At the Jan. 19 Board meeting, the majority of the Board voted AGAINST the resolution, stating that they did not believe the community was sufficiently educated about the CCA.  Know that we are aware of the CCA Program, and we WANT IT!  Please vote YES and allow local residents and small businesses to participate in this long-awaited program.  It’s a win-win for everyone!

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What is a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) Program? 

A CCA is an energy procurement model that allows municipalities to pool, or aggregate, the electric load of residents, businesses and institutions and purchase power on their behalf.   In states like New York, where electricity is deregulated or semi-regulated, CCA programs provide municipalities with access to the wholesale power market and the ability to control the supply source, mix, and price.  Traditionally, the default utility (in Croton, ConEd) controls supply source and price, as well as delivery and customer service.  In a CCA framework, the difference is that the municipality can contract with alternative energy service companies (ESCOs) to control the supply source and negotiate price, while the utility continues to provide delivery and customer service.

A CCA Program is all about:

·      giving people a choice of power providers,

·      negotiating cheaper electricity prices, and

·      has the potential to increase the local supply of cleaner energy sources.

How Will the Westchester CCA Work?

In 2015, the New York joined six other states to allow local CCAs – California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island.  Sustainable Westchester (a not-for-profit consortium of Westchester County local governments, of which Croton is a participating Member) has been authorized by the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to act as the Program Manager to implement the first CCA program in the State in Westchester County.

Here’s the deal:

·      What You Have Now: Croton residents have no choice of utility provider – the default is ConEd.  Individual can contract with ESCOs on their own, but they pay retail rates and have no leverage to negotiate lower rates.

·      The CCA Offers Choice: All Croton residents will automatically be included in the CCA by default.

·      People can Opt Out: Individuals who do NOT want to participate can CHOOSE to opt-out at any time, with no penalty.  It would be a simple matter of making that designation on your utility bill.

·      Renewable Power Sources Are Optional, Opt-In (or Opt-Up):While Sustainable Westchester is seeking bids that include renewables, the CCA program does not commit anyone to a renewables portfolio.  Sustainable Westchester’s overriding mission is to offer a fiscally-sound bottom-line price.  For those who DO want renewables, they will be able to electively opt-in to a 100% renewable option at the group negotiated price, which will be lower than what you could get at retail on your own.  Over time, as demonstrated demand grows, this will set the stage for development of the microgrid and local renewable power sources – good for the local economy, good for our health and the environment.

·      The CCA Will Save You Money and Offer Less Volatile or Fixed Rates: The CCA MOU dictates that pricing MUST meet one of the following criteria, so some cost savings is virtually guaranteed.  CCA programs in other states have achieved about 5-20% savings.  Sustainable Westchester anticipates about 5% savings in the first round of implementation.

1.   the default price is guaranteed to be consistently less than the Distribution Utility price for the same customer class, within the same utility defined zone, for the same period; or

2.   the default price is fixed at a level that is less than the average utility price for the same commodity, for the same customer class, within the same utility defined zone, over the Preceding Twelve Month Period (as defined below); or

3.   the default price is at first set at a level that is less than the average utility price for electricity, for the same customer class, within the same utility defined zone, over the Preceding Twelve Month Period, and only floats upward by less than twenty-five percent (25%) of the price increases implemented by the Distribution Utility.

·      Village Responsibility and Administrative Burden is Minimal:The Village of Croton will have no financial burden from joining the CCA.  The Village will have shared responsibility to educate the community about the program and opt-out procedures.  Outreach and education activities with be facilitated and funded by Sustainable Westchester.

Why Should Croton Participate in the Westchester CCA?

The Westchester CCA is a no-risk, bi-partisan, cost-effective, consumer-protection initiative.  It is a win-win energy solution!  Communities around the State are jealous that Westchester is the only County currently approved for a CCA, and they are eagerly awaiting reports on this program’s results.  Not only do we have the opportunity to get in on this game-changing program, we have the ability to provide a model for leadership at the state and national level.

·      When more people participate, there is more bargaining power to secure lower rates!  As of Jan. 22, 2016, seventeen out of 24 eligible Westchester municipalities have already joined the CCA Program. That means over 75,000 customers – families and small businesses – in Westchester County will benefit from CCA.. In Croton, data provided to Sustainable Westchester shows that Croton has 223 local small business owners and 2,398 local homeowners who could be included in the CCA.

·      The CAA is a market-based energy solution that is entirely funded by existing end-users, not taxpayer subsidies.

·      There is no risk, you can opt-out at any time, with no penalty.

·      The participation deadline is now! Sustainable Westchester will be receiving bids from ESCOs with a 3-year contract anticipated to be completed on Feb. 10, 2016.  If we’re not counted in the bid, we’ve missed our chance.  While it MAY be possible to join the program in later rounds, it is highly unlikely that we will receive the same rates as those offered now to the larger group.

Timeline of CCA Planning and Village Review

The bottom line – The Board has been aware and generally supportive of the CCA for many years.  Don’t let them stall now and miss the deadline for participation!

·       6/20/2011 Village BOT Meeting Resolution: The Board passed Resolution requesting that the Governor initiate a study to examine concrete ways to replace electricity currently generated at Indian Point – it recommended 5 options, including the possibility of a CCA. The resolution passed 4-1 with Trustee Schmidt raising the objection that some suggestions would be contradictory to Board’s position on the Millennium Pipeline. He did not take issue with the CCA recommendation.

·      9/23/13 Village BOT Meeting Resolution: The Board voted 5-0 to pass a Resolution asking the NYS Senate and Assembly to support a CCA – the State initiative had bi-partisan support and was spearheaded by Senator Greg Ball (R-Patterson) and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88).

·      2/26/15 NY Public Service Commission CCA Approval Press Release: PSS OK’s State’s First Community Choice Aggregation Pilot Program, Energy Demonstration Project in Westchester County Designed to Help Customers Lower Energy Bills.

·      4/20/15 Village BOT Meeting Resolution: The Board voted 4-0 (with Mayor Wiegman recusing himself) to pass a Resolution stating that the Village of Croton would enter a participation agreement with Sustainable Westchester provided specific pricing conditions were met (those condition ARE met in the current MOU and will be met by the contracted ESCO).

·      7/13/15 Village BOT Meeting, Public Hearing and Adoption of Local Law No. 5 of 2015: Following a public hearing, and anticipating participation in the CAA Program, the Board voted 4-0 (with Mayor Wiegman recusing himself) to pass the authorizing local law amending the Village Code to add Chapter 118 “Community Choice Aggregation (Energy) Program.”  This law authorizes the CCA program in Croton and establishes administrative procedures.  A Sustainable Westchester representative was present to provide information on the CCA and answer any questions posed by the Board or members of the public.

·      1/11/16 Village BOT Work Session: The Board again discussed participation in the CCA. A member of Sustainable Westchester was present to answer question and provide updates on program progress.

·      1/19/16 Village BOT Meeting CCA Resolution REJECTED: While all Board members indicated that the CCA was theoretically a “good thing,” but that they felt the community was not adequately informed and they wanted more time to consider Croton’s participation.  The representative from Sustainable Westchester addressed all of their concerns (to the apparent satisfaction of the residents in attendance), but explained that there could be no more delay – the total number of participants must be known prior to the bidding process.  Therefore, despite years of preparation and anticipated deadlines, the Board voted 3-2 to REJECT the Resolution to join the CCA.

Resources

·     Contacts for Village Mayor Schmidt and Board of Trustees

·     Sustainable Westchester CCA Toolbox (includes links to the MOU, information on each municipality, FAQs, news coverage, etc.):

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