Capital Region CCA program on hold, again

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

 The Capital Region Community Choice Aggregation program is once again on hold as the negotiated rates for electricity came in higher than National Grid’s current rates.

NEW SCOTLAND — The Capital Region Community Choice Aggregation program, which allows municipalities to bargain for cleaner and cheaper electricity, is once again on hold as the bargained-for rates of electricity came in notably higher than what National Grid is currently charging for energy. 

New Scotland Supervisor Douglas LaGrange pointed out the unique pandemic-related circumstances that have led prices to drop. “Prices went way down because of less use, generally speaking,” he told The Enterprise on Friday. 

During a special meeting of the New Scotland Town Board on Sept. 2, Councilman Adam Greenberg said that the Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance (MEGA), the CCA program administrator, had been getting updates from the project’s only bidder, Constellation Energy. 

Although it wasn’t an exact figure, Greenberg said that “the number would be very much in the ballpark” of what residents could expect to pay for electricity — which was about 12-percent to 13-percent higher than National Grid’s current grid mix, or brown energy. Greenberg said MEGA did not end up getting formal pricing.

Greenberg also said that green energy is very expensive right now relative to where it has been in the past few years. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority as well as the state, Greenberg said, “Are trying to deal with that issue, and in the next few months, hopefully will have done something. And that may make the green energy price significantly less.”

The plan is to continue moving forward with the Capital Region CCA, LaGrange told The Enterprise on Friday, although he added that he hadn’t spoken with all the other municipalities involved.

“It’s just a timing issue, not a motivation issue,” said Greenberg during the Sept. 2 meeting.

In the early months of the pandemic, a number of states saw electricity demand drop between 9 and 13 percent, which translated to a price decline in the wholesale electricity market of between 22 and 37 percent — although those saving may not get passed onto consumers “because of the timeline of electricity rate regulation by states,” according to the Congressional Research Service.

Thirteen municipalities are involved in the Capital Region Aggregation, including New Scotland, Voorheesville, Guilderland, and Altamont.

In May, the program was shelved in part because of a drop in energy prices. 

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the state, the 13 area cities, towns, and villages that made up that Capital Region Aggregation had taken all the required steps to implement the individual CCA program at the municipal level, Nicole Correia, a project organizer with MEGA, told The Enterprise in May.

The plan, Correia said at the time, was to issue a request for proposals (RFP) this month to find the best electricity rates for the 90,000 households of the Capital Region Aggregation. 

“So, we were originally planning to go to bid at the beginning of May, but we heard from municipalities that they weren’t quite ready to do that,” she said. “Obviously, their intentions [are] focused elsewhere; they still want to move forward with CCA, but want to slow the process a little bit.”

There were also some municipalities that listed among their concerns the current unpredictability of the energy market. But Correia claimed the pullback was more COVID-based than market-related.

 

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