By January 2016, New York’s Westchester County will procure clean energy for around 75,000 of its residents, according to Glenn Weinberg, manager of special projects at Joule Assets. Over 15 municipalities are banding together to aggregate their demand for cleaner power sources and lower their energy bills through competitive bidding.
This demonstration project is the first implementation of community choice aggregation (CCA) in the state and will serve as a model for local energy control in New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision initiative.
CCA is a hybrid between private utility service and complete municipal or public control. In states with competitive electricity markets, CCA enables local communities to gain control over their electricity sourcing. The local utility company still delivers transmission, distribution and billing services. By pooling demand, the community negotiates competitive rates and fixed price contracts on behalf of its citizens. Unlike public utilities, community choice aggregators do not own generating assets.
With CCA, buying local renewable power can be affordable and provide a source of pride for local communities. On the other hand, it can also result in little to no clean energy purchasing, as has been seen in CCAs in Illinois and Ohio.
Sustainable Westchester, the nonprofit group implementing the pilot program, is leading extensive community engagement to ensure that its CCA will serve as a model for addressing consumer fiscal concerns and achieving an historic level of renewable procurement and generation in the county.