Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), a way to stabilize and possibly reduce the cost of electricity, is based on communities getting together to purchase electricity as a group, increasing bargaining power and allowing for stable pricing. Jeff Domanski of Hudson Valley Energy, the local agent for Joule Community Power, said at a Village of Saugerties Board meeting that “Through the power of numbers, communities can get very competitive rates for electricity supplies.”
The company is seeking primarily renewable sources for electricity, he said. The program comes with “quite a few consumer protection elements built into the program to protect community members from vagaries within the program that might be selected,” but also there are a number of bad actors in the marketplace that’s available to them. He offered a number of examples, including price-gouging by one company and roadblocks to opting out of a program set up by another. Saugerties was one of ten municipalities served by Columbia Utilities, which dropped a three-year contract to provide energy through a CCA system administered by Joule Energy after only one year.
Domanski said that Joule is seeking another supplier and is sending out a request for proposals, which will be shared by community leadership. If communities like the contract proposal of the low bidder, they would sign a contract with the supplier and with Joule Energy, which has many provisions to protect the communities that join, he said, “even from the experience you had, where the supplier was able to slip out. It’s an evolving program; it’s consistently improving.” (The supplier, Columbia, dropped a program with the Town of Saugerties, not the Village.)
Information about the program should be going out to municipalities fairly soon, Domanski said, with a review of any offers in March and April, and a program start in the beginning of the summer.