Public Service Commission enables CCA in New York

In a much-awaited action, the Public Service Commission this month approved the creation of Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) statewide. Since 2013, CLP has been a leading advocate for enabling CCA in New York. The breakthrough PSC Order allows municipalities to take over the utility’s role as the default supplier of energy to their residents and businesses, and develop programs that control cost, increase resiliency, reduce carbon pollution, and keep energy dollars local. As CLP’s Jen Metzger stated in a press release, “by enabling CCA, the PSC has empowered our local communities over energy decision-making in a way that can support local goals as well as the Governor’s ambitious statewide goal of 50% renewable energy by 2030.”

Now it’s time to move CCA forward in the Mid-Hudson Region! CLP has been laying the groundwork for an Ulster County CCA for more than two years, and a number of Ulster municipalities have expressed their support for CCA, including the Towns of Marbletown, New Paltz, Plattekill, Rochester, Rosendale, and Saugerties, the Village of New Paltz and the City of Kingston.  Local efforts to form a CCA are also underway in Sullivan County, led by the Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development, and there is strong interest in Tompkins County and Erie County, as well.  Downstate, Sustainable Highlands has been working to promote passage of municipal resolutions of support for CCA in Putnam and Orange counties.

At the state level, CLP will continue to push for three important changes that the PSC’s order does not include:  1) access to utility data on aggregated electricity usage and grid load early in the CCA planning process, to help CCAs plan effectively so our communities get the biggest bang for their energy bucks; 2) funding to help communities organize to form CCAs; and 3) enabling CCAs to administer local energy efficiency programs instead of the utility. Massachusetts and California both provide their CCAs with this authority, recognizing that the community is a more effective scale for designing energy efficiency programs than is a utility service territory.

The PSC order comes on the heels of the positive results achieved by the CCA pilot program of Sustainable Westchester (SW), which is managing the program for a group of 20 cities, towns and villages.  The program recently received bids for power purchase from energy supply companies that beat out the 12-month average price from Con Edison and New York State Electric & Gas Company – including a 100% renewable option.