Electricity Markets

New York PSC OKs community choice aggregation plan

The New York Public Service Commission on Jan. 18 approved a community choice aggregation program that will allow five municipalities in upstate New York to make bulk purchases of electricity and natural gas for their residents and small businesses.

The CCA program will serve the central New York villages of Fayetteville and Minoa, along with the Village of Coxsackie and the towns of Cairo and New Baltimore.

The CCA program approved by the PSC is organized by energy consultant Good Energy L.P. While this will be Good Energy’s first CCA effort in New York state, the company has helped create CCAs for more than 250 communities in other states.

The PSC said that Good Energy will help each of the five communities select an energy service company, or ESCO, to manage their CCA effort. Operations could start during the second quarter of 2018.

“While CCAs can result in lower energy prices, Good Energy will also help municipalities determine whether renewable or clean energy products can be included as part of the CCA program,” the commission said in a news release.

Some of these options include energy storage, distributed generation, and green power.

With respect to energy storage, the PSC said that the CCA program may consider ways to support customer-sited energy storage systems and will ensure that third-party electricity supply complies with established storage regulations.

As for distributed generation, the CCA program may allow customers with designated on-site generation to sell excess energy to the CCA program at rates that reflect the market price of electricity. The CCA program may also establish an offering for larger facilities directly connected to the transmission system in which the municipality can procure long-term supply under a set rate.

The PSC said that as an option, the municipalities can choose for the electricity to come from 100 percent renewable resources, such as wind, and will be provided in the form of a fully-bundled electricity product, possibly secured through the purchase of renewable energy certificates.

This is the third CCA implementation plan approved by the PSC. Previously, the commission allowed 20 municipalities in Westchester County to form a CCA and, more recently, a CCA implementation plan by the Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance was approved for the City of Elmira and the towns of Oneonta, Montour, Horseheads, Union, and Binghamton, as well as the Village of Montour Falls.

The Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance recently submitted a petition to the PSC in order to expand the number of communities that will be served by its initial CCAs in upstate New York.

The PSC said that while additional communities may pass local laws in the future to join or establish a CCA, under the program regulations residents and small businesses can decline the opportunity to join a CCA and remain a customer of a utility or energy service company.

CCAs were created in New York under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy, which is designed to harness and integrate renewables into the state's power grid.

Community choice aggregation in other states

A recent article in Public Power Magazine notes that as of 2017, seven states have adopted some form of community choice aggregation, although the entities take on different meaning from state to state. Community choice, also called municipal or community aggregation, has been adopted into law in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island.

In California, several public power utilities and entities are moving to provide services to CCAs.

In September 2017, SMUD said that it had been selected to negotiate a services agreement to provide Valley Clean Energy Alliance, a new community choice aggregation joint powers agency, with technical and energy services, data management/call center services, wholesale energy services, credit support services and up to five years of business operations support.

Meanwhile, California-based East Bay Community Energy, which will implement a community choice aggregation program, recently selected the Northern California Power Agency to provide wholesale energy services.

In November, NCPA said that it will be providing a variety of wholesale energy services to California’s Pioneer Community Energy.