WEST CARTHAGE — Municipal officials attended a panel discussion Jan. 21 to learn more about Community Choice Aggregation — a municipal energy procurement model which can be utilized instead of traditional suppliers for electricity to residents and small businesses.
The panel discussion was organized by the Tug Hill Commission and the River Area Council of Governments — RACOG. Members of RACOG have been discussing the possibility of setting up municipal aggregation as a group or as individual municipalities. Present were representatives of RACOG from the villages of Carthage and West Carthage and the town of Champion as well as representatives of other villages, towns, the Development Authority of the North Country and Tug Hill Commission.
Representatives from Good Energy, Joules Assets and MEGA — Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance spoke about how their organizations could facilitate the process of aggregating utility customers for energy supply as authorized by the state Public Service Commission.
The panel members explained that although power could be procured from various sources, the consumers would still received transmission and distribution service from their existing utility provider which locally is National Grid.
“By aggregating with neighbors, you bring in bigger suppliers at a more competitive price,” said Javier Barrios, managing partner of Good Energy.
Utilizing municipal aggregation, communities have more control over their electricity sources, such as using more green power.
“You have the clout to design a program to your needs and protect a sustainable price,” said Mike Gordon, CEO of Joules Assets.
“Localized decision making is very powerful,” said Louise Gava, CCA project manager for MEGA. “In engaging in CCA the goal is to get support for energy efficiency.”
It was noted that even if a municipality choose to utilize community choice aggregation, individual residents or small businesses would still have the ability to opt out of the program.
Local government officials said although the concept sounds good there was a lot of information to consider.
“It will take a lot of education to get the people involved,” said Michael Bigness, West Carthage village trustee.
With hydro-electric facilitates already in place in the community, Champion town supervisor Bruce Ferguson was encouraged that the power source may possibly be included in the future.
“There are so many questions,” said G. Wayne McIlroy, president of the village of Carthage. “We’ll have a hard time explaining about billing, what the savings are, what is involved.”
The stakeholders said they would like to further explore through RACOG the possibilities of becoming involved in municipal aggregation.
Ms. Gavo explained her non profit organization includes education for the public throughout the community choice aggregation process.
The process also involves the adoption of local laws to permit including to permit for competitive bids for energy supply.