by Bob Ciesielski, Atlantic Chapter Energy Committee Chair
The NYS Public Service Commission has established a pilot Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program for Westchester County. Westchester Power (www.westchesterpower.org) is a program initiated and implemented by Sustainable Westchester Inc. on behalf of member municipalities in Westchester County. The program permits each of the 20 cities, towns and villages involved to purchase electricity in bulk for their residents. While the program was meant to lower energy costs, some 14 of the communities have opted to purchase 100% renewable energy from the NYSEG or ConEd utilities. Westchester Power permits residents to secure renewable electricity at a lower cost than traditional fossil fuel or nuclear sourced energy. Six of the participating Westchester communities are currently sourcing their residents’ electricity from a mixture of both renewable and traditional energy sources. If you live in the towns of Somers, Lewisboro or Greenburgh, or the villages of Rye Brook, Mount Kisco or Pleasantville, you may opt into a 100% renewable energy program by going to the Westchester Power website. Several of these communities have chosen the mixture of renewable and traditional fuel sources, due to the low cost of methane (natural gas). The gas industry seems perfectly satisfied to continue overproducing gas to maintain artificially low prices to hinder the development of renewable energy. As gas prices creep up, the low, steady cost of renewable energy appears more and more attractive. There are also several towns that have not partnered with Sustainable Westchester to permit bulk sale purchases. If you’re in one of these Westchester County communities, you may wish to contact your local legislators about signing onto Community Choice Aggregation and having your communities purchase 100% of your power from renewables. Bedford 2020 (www.bedford2020.org) has partnered with Sustainable Westchester to assist with education, outreach and implementation of the Westchester Power program, with a focus on the “100% opt-up to renewable energy” feature. Besides energy, Bedford 2020 also deals with food and agriculture, transportation, waste and recycling, and water and land use in the area, and is aiding in developing many aspects of sustainable community throughout the region.