Residents enrolled in the Westchester Power Community Choice Aggregation will most likely not reap savings this year, as intended, through the renewable energy program. Instead, participants can expect a 3.8% rate increase. The information was confirmed earlier this week in comments made to the Pound Ridge Town Board by an outreach coordinator for Sustainable Westchester, which initiated and manages the program.
The CCA is a bulk purchasing program meant to empower residents and small businesses to get their electricity supply at competitive and stable fixed rates while increasing the use of renewable energy. Pound Ridge has been engaged with the topic of shared energy buying since the early formative stages of the program. The town passed a local law allowing it to join Sustainable Westchester in September 2015. Town officials completed all prerequisites at the time of launch, but ultimately did not decide to participate until July 2018. Today Pound Ridge is one of 27 municipalities across the county participating in Westchester Power. There are two supply options under the program: basic and green. Pound Ridge is part of the program’s green option, which means the electricity supply is backed by 100% renewable energy. All town residents have the ability to switch between options or opt out of the program altogether.
When initially presented, Sustainable Westchester representatives said the program was intended, though not guaranteed, to save residents about 10% on their bill for electricity. This worked for a time. In the spring of 2016, for example, Westchester Power awarded a contract to Direct Energy calling for fixed energy rates to drop from 7.41 cents per kilowatt-hour to 6.93 cents per kilowatt-hour. But when Pound Ridge officially enrolled in 2018, the contract rate moved higher to 7.405 cents per kilowatt-hour, offered through supplier Constellation NewEnergy Inc.
For the 2019-2020 contract period, participants saw the rate return to 6.93 cents per kilowatt-hour through Direct Energy. However, Sustainable Westchester didn’t anticipate a pandemic that would plummet oil prices to historic lows. Traditionally, low oil tends to decrease the price competitiveness of renewable energy.
Outreach coordinator Carmen Santos confirmed the rate for 2020-2021 would increase to 7.19 cents per kilowatt-hour under an agreement with the new supplier, Eligo Energy NY LLC.
“We are providing renewable energy credits for renewable energy and so it’s difficult to compete against a very low fossil fuel-based energy,” Ms. Santos said during the Town Board meeting Sept. 8. Given the circumstances, she added that “it was probably one of the most affordable green supply rates in Westchester County.”
Residents can expect to receive a notification in the mail informing them of the new supplier and rate. For more information about the town’s participation in the CCA, visit townofpoundridge.com.