Houston — Community choice aggregation programs are getting started in New York, with the potential to alter power market dynamics should they grow as quickly as they have in California, where CCA wholesale power purchases reached a little more than 7.2 million MWh in the second quarter.
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The New York Public Service Commission Thursday voted to approve a petition to reauthorize the state's first CCA program under a master implementation plan. Sustainable Westchester's CCA pilot program was approved by the commission in 2015 and launched in 2016. The program serves 18 municipalities and over 100,000 residents in Westchester County, according to the implementation plan, and there are 19 additional municipalities that are eligible to join.
CCA programs allow communities to make bulk purchases of power and natural gas for their residents and small businesses. CCA's are seen as a way to help lower energy bills and combat climate change, according to the PSC.
The CCA structure "makes sense as it delivers greater bargaining power and greater choice to New Yorkers," PSC chairman John Rhodes said during a webcast commission meeting in Albany. "The model is working in accordance with our well established principals for CCAs," Rhodes said.
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"I'm a fan of community choice aggregation," Commissioner Gregg Sayre, said. CCA programs can accomplish the goals of increased customer choice and a market-based encouragement of additional options for clean energy and distributed energy resources, he said.
Sustainable Westchester offers "basic supply" and "green supply" options for electric power. The basic option provides standard grid supply with "mixed energy sourcing that is largely non-renewable," according to the CCA. The green supply option is "matched 100% with Renewable Energy Certificates."
In the first 28 months of operation the CCA supplied power to 100,000 customers that would have otherwise been enrolled with their local utility and approximately 70,000 of them chose the green supply option, Sustainable Westchester said.
Beginning January 1, 2019, Exelon subsidiary Constellation NewEnergy will supply the participating municipalities with the basic and green supply options. The green supply is backed by 100% New York State hydropower RECs, according to the implementation plan. The contract length is 24 months and the pricing for both residential and small commercial accounts is 7.71 cents/kWh for basic supply and 7.96 cents/kWh for green supply.
The residential price of power supplied by local utility Con Edison in October was 9.19 cents/kWh, according to the company.
"The concept of savings is muddied by the fact that we are often comparing a green product with RECs to utility power," Sustainable Westchester said in the implementation plan. "These savings have been modest on a per account basis," the group said. On an aggregate basis, as of July 2018, the CCA saved over $12 million across all participating customers, the group said.
SOLAR PLUS STORAGE
The CCA is collaborating with its members to develop projects that will combine community solar and battery storage elements to "optimize the project economics." One such project sited at a Westchester County school district is designed to "exploit multiple value stack elements," reduce demand charges and provide solar PV energy generation access to the local community.
Sustainable Westchester will act as an agent for the school and will manage the community distributed generation for the developer. "The replication of this model will provide much more local renewable capacity," the group said.
The New York PSC has approved four CCA programs, though Sustainable Westchester is the only one to have supplied customers thus far. California had 18 CCAs supplying power as of Q2.
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