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Public Service Commission: Municipalities can now join together to purchase more affordable, cleaner power for residents, small businesses

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Thu, Apr 21st 2016 06:55 pm

Cities, towns and villages in New York can now join together to form community choice aggregations (CCAs) to collectively provide electricity for their residents and small businesses, enabling greater energy savings and consumer choice. The New York State Public Service Commission approved a statewide order Wednesday for these new organizations, which will engage consumers in new energy-efficiency and clean-energy initiatives at the community and grassroots level. 

"This is a major step forward for REV - Reforming the Energy Vision - Gov. Cuomo's strategy to lead the fight against climate change and grow New York's economy," said Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman. "Through the greater bargaining power aggregation provides, CCAs can work with their energy supplier to offer resources that reduce bills and meet local clean energy goals."

Just as communities come together under Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Councils, CCAs will foster cooperation among municipal officials, community leaders, environmental organizations and business professionals to produce the best energy solutions for their region of the state, Zibelman said. These community-led initiatives will also be a key tool in achieving Cuomo's clean energy standard, a mandate to generate enough renewable power to meet half of the state's power needs by the year 2030.

Westchester Power, the CCA pilot program approved by the commission last year, is about to begin serving more than 110,000 residents and small businesses in 20 municipalities in Westchester County. Fourteen of the participating municipalities in Westchester County have adopted a 100 percent renewable energy default power supply from renewable energy credits purchased for solar, wind and hydropower.

Several prospective CCAs have been organizing around the state, including a multicounty CCA proposed by the Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance Inc. MEGA's plan is to serve roughly 500,000 residents in 11 counties from the Finger Lakes to the Hudson Valley.

Under the order, prospective CCAs must submit plans for consumer outreach and data sharing when seeking commission approval of a new CCA. In addition, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will provide technical assistance to municipalities considering CCAs.

CCAs will also meet other key goals of REV: creating a greater number of small, local, clean power plants throughout the state and increasing the benefits of retail competition for residential and business customers. Westchester Power has a provision in its contracts that allows for the purchase of additional renewable power with its customers sharing in any additional savings. While its renewable power will be initially provided through the purchase of renewable energy credits, the Westchester CCA hopes to eventually buy power directly from renewable generators, including new power supplies in Westchester County.

To learn more about REV, including the governor's $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, visit www.ny.gov/REV4NY.

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