Welcome

to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative

Meeting Highlights: 2021

January 2021

January 2021

Overview of Community Choice Aggregation – Terry Carroll

Terry is an energy educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County and coordinator of the Clean Energy Communities program in the Southern Tier. He provided a brief overview of community choice aggregation (CCA) and update on the CCA discussions taking place on the Energy Committee of the Tompkins County Council of Governments (TCCOG).

  • Community choice aggregation (CCA), at its most basic level, is a bulk buying agreement for energy supply (electric and/or gas) by one or more municipalities on behalf of their residents.
  • Public service commission (14-M-0224, order April 21, 2016)
    • Municipality can pass local law to purchase energy supply on behalf of residents and small commercial accounts; must be done at the lowest level (village, city, town) and individuals have the rights to opt out.
  • In NYS:
    • 61+ municipalities with active CCAs
    • About 170,000 residential and small commercial electricity accounts
    • 38 municipalities are currently receiving 100% renewables as default supply
  • Current CCA Administrators that have implementation plans:
    • Good Energy
    • Joule Assets
    • Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance (MEGA)
    • Westchester Power
  • Different stages of CCA:
    • CCA 1.0: Save money by RFP to procure lower cost per kWh, green energy (RECs) at a slightly higher cost
    • CCA 2.0: Regional green energy procurement at a cost less or equal to utility supply, cheaper energy option with local energy programs.
    • CCA 3.0: Save money by reducing energy demand. Social and energy equity at core. Locally built, owned, and managed green energy & storage, EV, heat pumps, local jobs. Keep money in the community.
  • TCCOG CCA Working Group
    • Five webinars covering a range of CCA topics, available at southerntiercec.org
    • Several communities (Town & City of Ithaca, Caroline, Newfield, Danby, Trumansburg) working together to look at model law and consider tweaks.
    • Funding Discussions: help municipalities get organized and moving forward.
  • Path Forward:
    • Existing Administrator
      • Put out an RFP for an administrator,  listing what requirements the involved municipalities want.
      • Likely fastest way to get off ground.
    • Create a Local Administrator:
      • Utilize an existing organizations’ structure or create a new organization to undertake becoming a local admin.
      • Slower to get off ground but may meet overall CCA goals faster.
    • For questions, please contact Terry at tc629@cornell.edu or 315-857-5918

 

Community Energy as a Shared Municipal Service – David Gower

Like Terry, David has been participating in the TCCOG Energy Committee discussions on CCA. He has 10 years of experience in the clean energy space and has been actively involved locally in organizations such as the Green Resource Hub, Sustainable Enterprise and Entrepreneur Network, Southern Tier Energy Network, and Fossil Free Tompkins. David discussed his vision of community energy as a shared municipal service. In doing so, he addressed the following questions:

  • How can a CCA allow communities to get 100% renewables at a cost less than the default utility?
  • Why should communities implement and manage CCA on their own?
  • In what ways could they make it self-funding with minimal staffing needs?
  • In NYS, first CCA begun by Sustainable Westchester – Westchester Power
    • As of Jan 2021, 28 communities and 115k customers
    • NYSERDA CCA Toolkits available online
      • Specifically mentions option of municipalities doing without 3rd parties or consultants.
      • Organizations like Joule, MEGA, and Good Energy are an option, but not intended as the only choices.
    • Many advantages to keeping control and sharing with other municipalities.
      • The key is to expand the group purchasing power and to combine with other programs (e.g. energy efficiency, low-income, etc.)
    • Possibility to cut out the administrators and even the ESCOs to enable a price for green energy even lower than the default offered by the ESCOs.
    • Example of benefits lost to communities by using 3rd party administrator.
      • CCA operated by Joule Assets at Town of Geneva, create Geneva Community Solar
        • Expensive to find subscribers
        • Solar developers often pay $600 or more per subscriber household
        • 400-subscriber enrollment target, 400 x $600 = $240,000
        • Town of Geneva earned $25,000
        • Plus approx. $25 per household/year paid to Joule by ESCO in perpetuity of contract for managing CCA (approx. 5000 households or $120,000/year paid to Joule).
      • If done without 3rd party administrator, these funds could support staff and provide a revenue source for funding towns
      • Community-owned land could be leased to support program funding.
      • Likely to become a revenue generating activity, not a cost.
    • Framework plan to ensure control and preserve choice:
      • First step – promote unified adoption of “no loss” CCA legislation, and add the following:
      • Require ESCO offer to be 100% renewable with price at or below default utility (currently possible, especially if you work with community solar developers to incorporate acquisition value and discounts that can be shared across community).
      • Emphasize right to retain CCA administrator role; if needed bring on consultants, but don’t completely outsource to a 3rd party CCA administrator.
      • Retain rights to use the value of the relationship with CCA members in the communities – don’t easily give the brand away.
      • Limit contract lengths with any consultant or other 3rd parties.
      • Make sure to retain rights regarding how this ‘opt-out’ relationship with community members can used for communicating and implementing future energy and other community programs (e.g. broadband, low-income, recycling, other)
    • Future benefits of retaining control of CCA membership:
      • Direct local investment in projects/microgrids/DERs, etc.
      • Become your own broker/ESCO, no need to go out to the ESCO market – enables the community to decide its own energy supply rather than putting out RFP to existing ESCOs.
      • Share services/structure with other counties and gain more benefits for the entire group. Additional funding available with NYS DOS Shared Services Incentive.
      • Take over the billing from the utility entirely and bring clarity and local branding to electricity and use the same platform for water/sewer, etc.
    • For questions, please contact David at gowerdavid@gmail.com or 716-969-4899
    • For more information, review David’s slides or the following:

 

Group Discussion

How feasible does CCA as a shared municipal service seem? What do you see as the main opportunities? What do you see as the biggest challenges?

  • Irene: Paul Fenn said he’d be happy to work with us on CCA on a contracted basis. Paul also mentioned CCA’s can get data from utilities. He’s able to look at the data and figure out how to save energy. Ongoing challenge is lowering the energy costs. Future challenge is to save energy.
  • Rod: Next step of TCCOG is to find grant funding, looking to interview organizations/administrators and identify who might be willing to work with us.
  • Mark: Excited about this. Will involve education and engagement of municipal boards and the public to move forward.
  • Karim: What are the first steps that municipalities should work on?
  • David G: The first step is setting more people to know about this – list the key ideas and promote to the town for adoption. Then set the minimum requirements for the program to be sustainable and put it into legislation. To develop local control: anybody can establish an ESCO but many are not adding value, so the community can get together and establish its own “authority.”
  • David K: What are points of concerns/potential pitfalls once municipalities take over?
  • David G: Need to keep an eye on what utilities try to do (such as charging CCA fees) once their business model is threatened. But customers don’t need to worry about service degrading since regulated utilities are required to deliver electricity.
  • Irene: CCA is about energy supply. Utilities are about energy delivery/transmission.

 

TCCPI Issues & Topics for 2021 – All

Thoughts about what issues and topics participants would like to see TCCPI focus on in 2021?

  • CCA
  • Ithaca Energy Code Supplement
  • Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) Advisory Panels – updates would be very helpful (see ACE-NY)
  • Energy upgrades and retrofit of existing buildings – both commercial and residential
    • Focus on incentives for retrofitting existing buildings
  • County Energy Summit
  • Electric vehicles
    • Vehicle-to-grid technology and battery storage
  • Reuse of materials and job training: Finger Lakes ReUse collaboration with Cornell, CCETC, and Historic Ithaca
  • Intersection of housing rights and energy/environmental justice
  • Green financing and the structural racism built into financial institutions
  • Guidelines for valuing carbon, integration into assessments of projects

309 North Aurora Street | Ithaca, NY 14850 | info@tccpi.org