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LIPA Board Hears From Alt-Power Advocates

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 10:16

Several local officials were among those urging the Long Island Power Authority on Monday to authorize municipalities to enact community choice aggregation, which would allow them, singly or together, to issue competitive bids to choose suppliers of electricity. The public hearing was conducted via video conference.

LIPA is expected to vote on adopting a framework for C.C.A. at its May 20 board meeting. Six investor-owned utilities in New York State adopted a C.C.A. tariff — terms and conditions — in 2016. LIPA, which is not regulated by the state’s Public Service Commission, did not. A tariff is a required state prerequisite to launching a C.C.A. program.

Southampton Town adopted enabling legislation for C.C.A. last year. Brookhaven and Hempstead have also passed enabling legislation, but only Southampton has taken the next step, issuing a competitive bid and selecting Joule Assets of Katonah, N.Y., to administer the program, which it has named Choice Community Power.

East Hampton Town Councilman Jeff Bragman, Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, and Southampton Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone and Councilman John Bouvier attended Monday’s hearing, long distance. Mr. Bragman called C.C.A. “a very exciting concept, especially for a small community like East Hampton,” which hopes to derive all of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030.

C.A.A. would enable the town to join its neighbors in making “our own decisions about the type of power that we need for the town” without requiring new infrastructure, he said. “We’re excited about the idea of being able to participate in new energy markets.”

Ms. Fleming, who chairs the county legislature’s C.C.A. task force, said that body “can confirm that adopting C.C.A. on Long Island is in the public interest. Importantly, it will further the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act,” legislation that requires New York to get 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and move to entirely carbon-free power generation by 2040. 

“C.C.A. on Long Island will be a significant step toward greater response to the needs and concerns” of LIPA customers, Ms. Fleming said.

The Southampton Town Board concluded some time ago that “the opportunity and capacity to generate renewable energy locally on a scale required” to meet its goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2025 is not feasible, said Frank Zappone, the town’s deputy supervisor. C.C.A. will “increase the ability of individuals and communities to manage their energy usage, and facilitate wider market deployment of clean energy as well as large-scale renewable and distributed energy resources,” he said.

Southampton Town Councilman John Bouvier, who is a member of the county’s task force, said C.C.A. will drive forward research into and development of renewable energy, including solar and wind power as well as tidal generation and battery storage. Janice Scherer, Southampton’s planning and development administrator, and Dieter von Lehsten, co-chairman of its sustainability advisory committee, also urged LIPA to adopt a C.C.A. tariff.

“I would like the opportunity to explore how the existence of a C.C.A. can motivate more solar on rooftops in the LIPA region,” Andy Smith of GreenLogic said. “That would mean more jobs, contributing to our local economy, and reducing the carbon footprint of Suffolk County.” 

On Tuesday, Deputy East Hampton Town Supervisor Sylvia Overby said a public hearing on C.C.A. will be held on June 4, ahead of the town board’s vote on a resolution to authorize enabling legislation. The public can submit written comments to LIPA at [email protected], as well as to the Department of Public Service, at [email protected], through Monday.

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