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LIPA Authorizes Widespread Community Choice Power

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 11:34

In a significant development for the proliferation of renewable energy, the Long Island Power Authority’s board voted unanimously on Wednesday to adopt the rules and regulations of the New York State Public Service Commission’s 2016 order authorizing a framework for community choice aggregation.

Community choice aggregation, or C.C.A., is a program by which a town or group of municipalities issues a competitive bid and chooses an electricity supplier on behalf of its residents and small businesses. The aggregation of purchasing power allows the negotiating of lower electricity rates and enables a municipality to choose its renewable sources for its electricity supply.

With Wednesday’s vote, Long Island municipalities can launch a C.C.A. program as of June 1.

The East Hampton Town Board, which has set a goal of deriving all of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030, has scheduled a June 4 public hearing on adopting C.C.A. enabling legislation. Southampton, Brookhaven, and Hempstead are the three municipalities on Long Island to have passed enabling legislation. To date, only Southampton has taken the next step, issuing a competitive bid and selecting a C.C.A. administrator. Last year, the town chose Joule Assets of Katonah, N.Y., to administer the program, which it has named Choice Community Power.

More than 100 municipalities have adopted C.C.A. legislation in New York State, and five C.C.A. programs are operating at present. The state announced the most far-reaching clean energy commitment of any major economy in the world last year when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which established benchmarks of 70-percent renewable electricity by 2030 and 100-percent clean electricity by 2040.

“Sometimes we need to be satisfied with small accomplishments,” Lena Tabori, the chairwoman of East Hampton’s energy sustainability advisory committee, said on Wednesday. “Not this time. This could be huge. Now that LIPA has cleared the way, East Hampton has the opportunity to create its own C.C.A., a major step as we move forward to meet our 2030 100-percent renewable goals. Every community with a C.C.A. has initially used it to negotiate for its own mix of energy. The more we require our electricity to be green, the more we encourage green energy. This is a powerful thing.”

In a statement issued by the Southampton Town Board on Wednesday, Councilman John Bouvier said, “While all of Long Island benefits from the LIPA board of trustees’ vote, C.C.A. is a tool essential to Southampton in order to meet its stated goal of 100-percent renewable electric energy by 2025.” When Choice Community Power is launched, he said, it will eliminate an estimated 175,000 and 350,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases “and fast-track the town’s alignment with clean energy mandates established by Governor Cuomo.”   

"Three years ago Southampton introduced the concept of C.C.A. to the East End,” Lynn Arthur, energy chair of Southampton’s sustainability advisory committee, told The Star on Wednesday. “Many rejected the proposition because they saw no clear path to implementation. Nonetheless the Town of Southampton persisted, adopted the enabling legislation, appointed a C.C.A. administrator, and spearheaded the effort to persuade LIPA to make the rules change permitting C.C.A. programs on Long Island.”

“The town’s efforts,” added Mr. Bouvier, a member of Suffolk County’s C.C.A. task force, “have had broad support from the community as well as from our New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele.” Mr. Thiele submitted a letter of support for C.C.A. to the chairman of the LIPA board and to the Public Service Commission’s commissioner, as did all of the Southampton Town Board members. A letter of support for C.C.A. signed by more than 1,000 Southampton residents was also submitted to the board and the commissioner.

“With this action, the LIPA board has made C.C.A. possible on Long Island,” County Legislator Bridget Fleming, the chairwoman of the county’s C.C.A. task force, said in a statement on Wednesday. “Towns and villages of Suffolk County will now have the opportunity to implement community choice regarding the source of their energy supply. This is an exciting step which moves Long Island forward toward a more affordable, desirable, cleaner energy future.”  

“Long Island communities will now have a versatile power tool in their energy toolbox empowering them to take charge of their energy future and to accelerate the transition to clean and renewable energy,” said Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island and a member of the county’s C.C.A. task force.

East Hampton Town Councilman Jeff Bragman was among the elected officials to urge LIPA to adopt the state commission’s rules and regulations during a May 7 public hearing. Community choice aggregation, he said, would allow East Hampton to “make our own decisions about the type of power that we need for the town” without requiring new infrastructure. “We’re excited about the idea of being able to participate in new energy markets.”


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