I am optimistic that the Southampton Town Board can accomplish two things seemingly at odds.
Community Choice Aggregation was ordered by the Department of Public Service in 2016. In 2017, the Sustainability Advisory Committee recommended that the Town Board investigate whether CCA could be a program advantageous for Southampton.
In 2020, the Town Board set an additional energy goal for the town to meet 100 percent of the communitywide electricity consumption through renewable energy sources by the year 2025. Shortly after, Southampton Town was the first on Long Island to adopt the CCA legislation; the towns of Brookhaven, Hempstead, East Hampton and Southampton Village did, too.
Meanwhile, over the 12 months ending in July 2022, 257,000 customers in CCA programs across 64 municipalities in New York State (outside the Long Island Power Authority service area) saved $28 million while generating 1.5 million megawatts of renewable energy. Each customer received an average savings of about $100 a year and injected 6 kilowatt hours of renewable energy into the New York grid upstate, displacing electricity generated by fossil fuels.
CCA is being embraced by municipalities across the country, for several reasons. CCA is the single most effective climate action a municipality can take. It shifts the selection of the default supplier from the electric utility to our elected officials, allows for the default choice to support renewable energy, and forces competitive rates.
CCA programs on Long Island will provide PSEG-LI customers choices they do not have today. Despite what default option the Town Board selects, individual customers can choose alternative options or can opt out at anytime at no charge.
Timing is also in our favor, since gas futures are predicting a significant price increase in 2024 and again in 2025. Gas prices are closely correlated to energy prices, and guess what fuels 90 percent of the LIPA grid? Compressed natural gas.
For the same reason it makes sense to lock in a fixed rate when mortgage rates are low and interest rates are predicted to rise, the Town Board will have the opportunity in the next couple of weeks to lock in a fixed price for electricity for a to-be-determined period of time.
Choosing a default power supply based on renewable sources will make us proud. Imagine the headlines: Southampton Town Board makes historic decision, creates a competitive market for electricity and achieves its 100 percent electricity goal two years ahead of schedule.
Arthur is founder of Peak Power LI, a nonprofit organization — Ed.
One fine body…