New Scotland’s Greenberg recognized for work on Community Choice Aggregation

Adam Greenberg

Adam Greenberg

NEW SCOTLAND — Community Choice Aggregation allows municipalities to bargain for cleaner and cheaper electricity, and local residents have one person to thank for it: New Scotland Councilman Adam Greenberg

He will be honored with the Capital District Regional Planning Commission’s 2020 Erastus Corning Award for Intermunicipal Cooperation for his work on Community Choice Aggregation at a date to be determined, as the original March 26 banquet was cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Greenberg substituted words with action, taking what was originally a proposed three-town program and turning it into a 13 municipality, 90,000-household Capital Region Aggregation

“Adam’s role in this effort was vital, because for years municipal leaders had been talking about sustainability, and some of us had been looking at CCA as a positive direction that we should take. But Adam took the leadership role of bringing [New Scotland, Bethlehem, and Guilderland] together … to actually get a CCA started,” David VanLuven, Bethlehem’s supervisor, wrote in his nomination of Greenberg for the award. “Without this leadership, our communities would still be talking about CCA rather than actually moving it forward … .”

Community Choice Aggregation gives municipalities the authority to make a local decision about where and from whom their electric customers get their power. The sheer size of the Capital Region Aggregation will allow the program administrator to use the collective buying power of 90,000 households to drive down utility rates while also being able to choose the source of the electricity generation. 

Communities face many issues that straddle municipal boundaries, said Mark Castiglione, executive director of the Capital District Regional Planning Commission, whether that’s trying to figure out how to best move students between their home districts and a BOCES program; or managing water resources, which don’t stop at the town line; or what Greenberg is working on — transforming an entire “area’s energy portfolio.”

“All of these things really work better on a regional scale and working together at the [intermunicipal-level] is a key part of that — and the awards are intended to highlight the work that communities are doing in that regard and to celebrate it,” Castiglione said, and the hope is that by recognizing this kind of work, the commission encourages more of it.

With an individual award like the one Greenberg is receiving, the commission looks at that person’s role providing leadership as part of the intermunicipal effort and how the individual has played a central role in bringing people together to focus on a regional issue.

VanLuven told The Enterprise that Community Choice Aggregation was something he had been thinking about for some time, as had other local municipal leaders — but thinking was the only thing that was happening.

“This isn’t hyperbole; this process would not be happening if Adam hadn’t taken the leadership role to make it happen,” VanLuven said, adding that, as a result, tens-of-thousands of households could soon be receiving their electricity from renewable-energy sources.

New Scotland Supervisor Douglas LaGrange called Greenberg a “tremendous catalyst” for the CCA program. “If it hadn’t been for [Greenberg’s] efforts,” LaGrange said, then 13 municipalities and 90,000 households wouldn’t be where they are today; “I can safely say that.”

One of the challenges working at the municipal level is the demand on people’s time, Van Luven said; limited personnel working within the constraints of tax-capped budgets are still expected to deliver a range of services to residents. 

So for towns to do something out of the ordinary — to try to tackle an initiative with some vision — is difficult when there are roads to be plowed, trash to be collected, and water and sewer lines to be maintained; there’s too much of a tendency to default toward provincialism, VanLuven said. 

But Greenberg just stepped in and said: Let’s just get this CCA-thing started; if we can just get Bethlehem, New Scotland, and Guilderland going, then other municipalities will follow suit, he said, which they did.

VanLuven described Greenberg as thoughtful and results-oriented — which is what he really appreciates about him, because it’s so easy to be in government and just talk, VanLuven said, but all that really matters is what actually gets done, “which Adam is very, very good at.”

“He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with — and I’ve worked with a lot of very sharp people over the years,” he said. “I find that I tap his insights and wisdom on a regular basis to help me with the operations of a town he doesn’t even live in.”

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