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Home/Saranac Lake (US) considers joining CCA

Saranac Lake (US) considers joining CCA

By aggregating all the electricity users in the Saranac Lake community, the group would be able to purchase renewable power at a cheaper rate than alone

Saranac Lake (New York, US) is considering joining a program - Community Choice Aggregation - that would let its residents and businesses purchase more renewable energy through their monthly bills.

By aggregating all the electricity users in the Saranac Lake community, the group would be able to purchase renewable power at a cheaper rate than alone.

All residents and small businesses who have a National Grid account already would be automatically opted in. They could choose to opt out at any time for no cost.

Climate Smart Communities Task Force Coordinator Erin Griffin called New York’s greenhouse gas reduction goals ambitious, but also necessary. She said without reducing carbon emissions, local activities like Winter Carnival are in danger because of a changing climate getting warmer. CCA is one of the most high-impact actions that any community can do.

New York is one of seven states allowing CCA agreements.

Adirondack North Country Association employee and renewable energy advocate Nancy Bernstein, who advised the village on this project, said a CCA allows a community to choose which energy industries it puts its dollars into. She said this is users exercising their “purchasing power.” She said if demand for renewable energies rises, the supply will rise to meet it. The CCA allows people to choose what energy industry they support.

There are a lot of steps that would need to be taken before a CCA could be approved. The first would be for the village to pass a local law enabling a CCA agreement. The village board seemed open to holding a vote on this, but did not take any action at its Monday meeting.

If the law is passed the village would contract for free with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for a CCA administrator who would collect public comment and evaluate renewable energy proposals to see if their rates are comparable to National Grid’s.

The village board will have the final say on whether to accept the proposal.

Trustee Kelly Brunette asked if CCA energy would cost more than National Grid.

Bernstein said it would hopefully not, but that until the village gets those proposals, they won’t know how much it will cost.

Village Community Development Director Jamie Konkoski said the village would compare prices for 100% renewably sourced energy with its current National Grid mixed rates. The CCA contract would lock in a rate, instead of being variable, as it is now.

This could be good or bad because the price of that fixed rate fluctuates.

If the village could lock in a good rate, Bernstein said this could act as a consumer protection measure. Variable rates can be good when they go down, but when they start creeping up nobody’s going to be happy, she said. Rates are low now, she said, but she added that they always go up.

Konkoski said the village can wait for a good rate before agreeing, or it could agree to mix renewable and non-renewable sources at a more affordable rate.