Town of New Paltz officials are looking to secure flat-rate electricity from any source — green, brown, or black — until a new supplier can be found under the Community-Choice Aggregation (CCA) plan. Under CCA rules, a third-party agent seeks out suppliers and negotiates a flat rate for all residents who don’t opt out of the program. Leaders of the last supplier, Columbia Utilities, tried to pull out of the contract once rates surged on the spot market, and then the company failed to meet credit worthiness requirements, prompting someone at the New York Independent System Operator — a quasi-governmental nonprofit agency — to pull authorization to be a supplier. This granted the leaders of Columbia Utilities what they wanted all along, and results in residents of New Paltz and eight other communities now paying market rates for electricity that is also not generated through 100% green sources.
Since there has been a break in this CCA service, the public education phase must begin again before a new supplier is selected. That means no one will automatically get low-cost, flat-rate, green electricity until sometime next year. Individual residents may wish to search for an energy service company in the short term, but are advised to look at the terms carefully to make sure that the price isn’t actually higher, and to understand how difficult it may be to break that contract. Town officials are exploring a different state program that is geared toward municipal buildings to bridge the gap.