Tag: Community Choice Aggregation

CCAs Will Power Community Solar, Storage & Microgrids

On April 28, 2016 elected & state officials, environmental leaders, business people and engaged citizens met to celebrate the launch of New York’s first Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program and the announcement by keynote speaker Audrey Zibelman (left), Public Service Commissioner, that CCA will become a statewide program.

CCA is a state policy that enables municipalities to aggregate electricity demand and buy power in bulk on behalf of their community with the intent to procure alternative energy supplies while maintaining the existing electricity provider for transmission and distribution services.

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Sustainable Westchester (SW) has been granted approval by the NYS Public Service Commission to implement the CCA program called Westchester Power.  Approximately 110,000 residents and small businesses in Westchester municipalities will see lower electricity costs with 14 of the 20 participating towns selecting 100% renewable energy as their default energy supply.

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SW has been working to bring CCA to New York for over four years. Mike Gordon (right), co-chair of Sustainable Westchester and CEO of Joule Assets, led the NY CCA effort, and was also responsible for drafting all statewide and local CCA legislation.

CCAs can be the catalyst propelling wider distributed energy resources (DER) use by tapping into the existing community-base to integrate Community Solar, Community Storage, and ultimately Community Microgrids. Communities taking control of their power options was a central theme of the event, with the quote of the day:

“We (the community) are the ultimate DERs”

For Westchester County, producing electricity locally also translates into jobs that would otherwise go to out of state companies. Sustainable Westchester also plans to participate in Community Demand Response programs, generating revenues for its members and providing relief to the grid with hardware like smart thermostats.

The Power Up for Clean Energy New York was produced by the Bedford 2020 and the panelists (pictured below from left to right) were:

  • Mike Gordon, Sustainable Westchester, Joule Assets
  • Kate Burson, Tesla Motors
  • Micah Kotch, NY Prize, NYSERDA
  • David Sandbank, NY-Sun, NYSERDA
  • Glenn Weinberg, Westchester Power, Joule Assets

Moderator:

  • Karl Rábago, Pace Energy and Climate Center

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NY’s First Community Choice Aggregation Program is Here

CCA Will Purchase Electricity on Behalf of 90,000 Homes and Small Businesses in Westchester County

Mar 09, 2016, 10:40 ET from Sustainable Westchester

Today, Sustainable Westchester and 17 of the 20 Westchester County municipalities that comprise Westchester Smart Power announced that they have selected the winner of a$150M contract bid that aims to transform the way we buy and use energy. ConEdison Solutions, the deregulated subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc., has been selected to provide electricity on behalf of 90,000 residential and small business customers throughout Westchester County. Under the CCA, each of the 17 municipalities now has a choice in whether to opt for a 100% renewable energy supply, greened through Green-e certificates, or a slightly lower priced energy supply that includes a standard mix of traditional and renewable energy sources. The contract is a milestone in what Westchester Smart Power intends to be a deep contribution of distributed energy resources (DER) in the state.

A Program That Redefines How We Purchase, Consume and Generate Energy

In 2015, Sustainable Westchester Inc., a local non-profit representing 40 communities in Westchester, was selected by New York State to manage the first Community Choice Aggregation pilot program under Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy. Together, the state’s first consortium of local governments joined to create Westchester Smart Power, giving municipalities the ability to contract directly with energy suppliers, acting as a single buyer, in order to realize bulk discounts on retail rates and to choose power from clean, renewable sources.

The Westchester Smart Power program unifies environmental and consumer interests as, for example, it achieves peak load reductions that may save as much as 100 Megawatts at peak hours, holding the potential to save residents and businesses an additional $10 million per year.

Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance for New York State, said, “As the first Community Choice Aggregation in New York State, Westchester Smart Power holds the potential to transform how consumers purchase, use and choose the energy for their homes and businesses. We congratulate the communities inWestchester County who have embraced Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy for a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system ensuring 50% of electricity consumed in New York comes from renewable power by 2030.”

20 of Sustainable Westchester’s 40 members have joined the Westchester Smart Power program. Municipalities that have joined the program include Bedford, Greenburgh, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington, Larchmont, Lewisboro,Town of Mamaroneck, Village of Mamaroneck, Mt. Kisco, New Castle, New Rochelle, North Salem, Town of Ossining,Village of Ossining, Pelham, Pleasantville, Rye Brook, Somers, Tarrytown and White Plains. Communities interested in participating should reach out to Sustainable Westchester for details about timing and participation in phase two of the program.

The Electric Service Agreement, drafted by Sustainable Westchester and attorneys and other representatives of the 20 participating municipalities, is a powerful document in its own right, emerging with 42 pages of protections for residential consumers and participating municipalities.

All residents and small businesses will be receiving letters from the municipalities outlining the details about Westchester Smart Power. Service for Westchester Smart Power customers will begin on May 1st.  For more information about Westchester Smart Power, go to www.westchestersmartpower.org.

“Westchester Smart Power will give consumers the opportunity to source clean power at more competitive rates. Unprecedented access to our consumption information and a commitment to buy together have been critical in enabling smarter, more informed and more powerful choices,” said Mike Gordon, Co-Chair of Sustainable Westchester.  “The success of Community Choice enables a transformative shift in the way we buy and use electricity, and soon energy, in New York. As the program goes forward, consumers will also benefit from savings attributed to peak demand reductions, local renewable energy generation and energy efficiencies.”

Bedford 2020, a Westchester-based environmental non-profit, is partnering with Sustainable Westchester to spread the word about the opportunity Westchester Smart Power represents to convert the county to renewable energy sources. According to Ellen Rouse Conrad, Co-President of Bedford 2020, “The choice to ‘opt up’ to 100% renewable energy is a game-changing opportunity for residents and small businesses in Westchester County. At long last, government has presented a viable solution for all consumers who care about clean energy, clean water and clean air.”

About Sustainable Westchester:

Sustainable Westchester is a membership organization with more than 85% of all Westchester municipalities participating, representing 800,000 county residents. The action group is designed to turn environmental challenges into opportunities to improve the quality of life, economy and future prospects of county citizens. For more information visit: www.sustainablewestchester.org.

About Bedford 2020:

Bedford 2020 is partnering with Sustainable Westchester to assist with education, outreach and implementation of the 100% “opt up” to renewable energy feature of Westchester Smart Power. Bedford 2020 is a non-profit organization leading a grass roots effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20% by the year 2020 in the town ofBedford, NY and beyond. Since their formation in 2010, they have piloted projects that have subsequently been replicated throughout the region. Their focus is on energy efficiency, solar energy and renewable energy. In addition, they have community programs in four other areas: Food & Agriculture, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, and Water & Land Use. For more information visit: http://bedford2020.org/.

Community Choice Empowers NY’s Electricity Customers & Beyond

Courtesy of the Environment Defense Fund’s Energy Exchange Blog

By: Paul Fenn, Founder and President of Local Power Inc.

New York has embarked on a major energy reform that will change the way electricity is produced, distributed, and priced in the state. The effort, called ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ (REV) has the potential to scale up the use of local renewable energy resources and widely deploy energy efficiency technologies, reduce energy bills, and give customers greater control over their energy use.

New York’s REV effort would change the longstanding utility business model that relies on a one-way, centralized power grid delivering electricity to customers, most of it generated by aging, polluting power plants. Under this model, the environmentally-conscious customer has little say over how her energy is produced.

Community choice a key part of REV effort

A key component of New York’s REV effort is a process called Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). CCA authorizes whole communities, by a vote of the local city council, to stop using power from the incumbent utility and instead purchase power in bulk from competitive electricity suppliers – as well as develop local renewable resources such as community or rooftop solar energy.

By allowing communities to opt-out of using utility power without penalty, customers have greater control over where their power comes from, often resulting in lower electricity rates, cleaner energy from local, distributed resources, and a more efficient system.

As part of the state’s energy reform, Governor Andrew Cuomo last year called for the development of CCA programs that would allow municipal governments to procure electricity for the community. The governor and state regulators embraced CCA programs for their ability to “support the deployment of renewable generation, energy efficiency programs, home energy management, and other distributed energy resources.” Leading the process is New York Public Service Commission Chair and former smart grid expert, Audrey Zibelman.

CCA programs exist throughout country

While New York is the first state in the country to call for CCA programs as a framework for distributed energy resource development, CCA programs already serve millions of customers throughout the country. With about five percent of Americans in 1,300 cities across America already enrolled in a CCA program, this model is poised to transform American electricity.

The first CCA program was launched in Massachusetts in 1997, and early models in Ohio, Illinois, and New Jersey focused on purchasing power in bulk from non-utility energy providers. That model has evolved, and current CCA programs – particularly in California and New York – are now focused on developing locally-generated renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. This has had the knock-on effect of creating local green jobs and boosting the local economy.

San Francisco CCA to localize city power supply

California’s electricity supply shortage in the early 2000s led decision-makers in the state to view CCA programs as a clean energy game changer. One such CCA program in San Francisco, called CleanPowerSF, is in the process of localizing the entire city’s energy supply. Other Bay Area CCAs in Sonoma County and Marin County have launched local power-oriented services, with Alameda, Los Angeles, San Diego, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Monterey counties all following suit.

Analysis from the CleanPowerSF program shows that after issuing $1 billion in solar bonds to finance the CCA program, San Francisco can permanently reduce the community’s total electricity use by up to 50 percent in a five-year period.

It’s not only about going green, but eliminating grid dependency and waste. The resulting revenue surplus of hundreds of millions of dollars could be invested in developing more local renewable energy. Through CleanPowerSF, customers will pay the same amount or less for electricity from day one.

In both New York and California, the expansion of CCA programs will depend on political commitment. Earlier this year, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee joined a chorus of local progressives calling for CleanPowerSF to use local power development to create thousands of local green jobs. But before CleanPowerSF launches next January, the Board of Supervisors must first authorize the issuance of revenue bonds to finance it: watch out for this vote.

CCA turns on its head the one-size-fits-all, top-down utility model, for a decentralized, “bottom-up,” locally-controlled system focused on reducing waste and reinvesting savings back into the community.

Like all platforms for implementing change, the success of CCA programs will depend upon cities like San Francisco and states like New York whose leaders are committed to tackling climate change and making communities more resilient in the face of extreme weather events. And these leaders know that communities are an integral part of the effort.

Paul Fenn is the Founder and President of Local Power Inc. which launched the nation’s CCA movement in the mid-1990s.

Source: Community Choice Programs Empower Electricity Customers in New York and Beyond