An Ulster County Local Power Program Is One of Six Demonstration Projects Recommended to the Public Service Commission in the Central Hudson Rate Case

CONTACT: Jen Metzger (845) 489-0830

Rosendale, NY. - A proposal by Ulster County-based Citizens for Local Power (CLP) to investigate and develop a local power program as a demonstration project of the State’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) Initiative has been included as one of six demonstration projects recommended to the NYS Public Service Commission (PSC) by the Parties to the Central Hudson rate case. The other five include four projects proposed by Central Hudson, and one project by Solar City.

The CLP proposal would launch an inter-municipal and public process of interested towns to create a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program in Ulster County to procure energy for residents and businesses and facilitate local energy investments. CLP first became aware of CCA when it was fighting the acquisition of Central Hudson by Fortis, and was looking into programs elsewhere in the country that could give communities a greater say in the energy decisions that affect them.

Formed initially in Massachusetts in the 1990s, CCAs currently exist in 1,300 communities in six states, including Massachusetts, Illinois, Ohio, California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. These local power programs allow cities, counties and other government entities to aggregate individual electricity customers within a defined area for the purpose of purchasing power and providing related energy services. The utility continues to own and operate the transmission and distribution lines, distinguishing CCA from a municipal utility. The models of CCA vary widely across the country, offering communities a variety of benefits, including: greater local control over energy decision-making; competitive and more stable energy supply rates; a cleaner and more local energy supply; energy services tailored to the needs of residents and businesses, and local economic growth.

Recognizing the potential benefits of CCA to consumers, the NYS PSC is enabling this program in New York as part of a wider energy reform effort designed to move the state toward a more decentralized, distributed energy system where renewable energy, energy efficiency, and demand management play a much greater role. The Commission views CCA as strongly aligned with the goals of its electricity reform efforts, which include giving customers more choices to manage energy bills, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and enhancing resilience.  

“There is an enormous potential here to create a power program in Ulster County that is locally controlled and serves local needs and goals,” said Jen Metzger of Citizens for Local Power. “There are good CCA models in other places that we can learn from, such as Sonoma Clean Power, in Sonoma County, California, but ultimately each CCA must be tailored to the circumstances and priorities of the communities they serve.” For this reason, CLP’s proposal includes a detailed investigation of the pattern of electricity usage  and renewable energy potential in the county, and an extensive process of public and municipal engagement in exploring and developing a local power program and the services and options it could offer to residents, businesses, and agriculture. The technical studies for this investigation would be undertaken by experts with funding set aside by the utility for REV demonstration projects, if the project is approved.

The report recommending the CLP project and other demonstration projects was prepared by Central Hudson in accordance with the Joint Proposal negotiated by the parties to the rate case and signed on February 6. CLP, a party to the rate case, elected not to sign the Joint Proposal but has participated in the open-ended working group on demonstration projects. The PSC is expected to take action on the Joint Proposal at its June meeting.