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Electricity: A Choice Coming?

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 13:10

East Hampton Town Hall will be the site of two upcoming forums on community choice aggregation, a model that replaces the utility as the default, monopolistic supplier of electricity or natural gas and gives municipalities the opportunity to seek lower prices from alternative suppliers.

The forums will happen on Tuesday and on Sept. 16, both from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

In the community choice aggregation, or C.C.A., model, communities pool demand to negotiate a fixed rate, potentially lowering prices with private suppliers. The town is considering establishing a C.C.A. model to purchase electricity on behalf of residents, businesses, and the town. A goal, along with potentially lower electricity rates, is to ensure that a greater percentage of the town’s electricity comes from renewable sources.

A release issued by the town on Friday states that through a C.C.A. program, electricity from “green” sources would be delivered through the Long Island Power Authority’s transmission and distribution service, allowing the community to exercise more control over its electricity sources and move toward the use of more renewable energy.

Should the town board adopt enabling legislation, it would then seek a C.C.A. administrator, which can be a municipality, a development corporation, a nonprofit organization, a private firm, or another third party. The C.C.A. administrator is tasked with developing and administering the program and procuring the energy for participating consumers, who are able to opt out if they so choose.

The town board voted on June 20 to hold public hearings to consider a resolution that would enable a C.C.A. program. It was one of four measures the board adopted, each aimed at moving the town closer to its goal of deriving 100 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources.

The board also voted to identify town facilities most suitable for battery energy storage systems and issue a request for information and proposals for installation and maintenance of such systems; commit to consider adopting legislation and regulations to facilitate the deployment of battery systems and other energy storage systems yet to be invented, and begin the process of convening technical experts and consultants to craft an energy policy to guide the town toward meeting its goal of using 100-percent renewable electricity by 2020 and 100-percent equivalent renewable energy in electricity, transportation, and heating fuels by 2030. The first goal will not be met, but is achievable in 2022, when the proposed South Fork Wind Farm is projected to begin operation.

Last month, the Southampton Town Board authorized Supervisor Jay Schneiderman to execute a contract with Joule Assets, a Katonah, N.Y., energy company, to serve as administrator of the town’s new C.C.A. program. The board had adopted a resolution to enable the establishment of a C.C.A. program in February and issued a request for proposals in April.

It is likely that East Hampton, Southampton, and other municipalities would work in conjunction to negotiate electricity purchase agreements from suppliers.

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