Well over a year ago, a group from Westchester County appeared before the Southampton Town Board to tout the advantages of moving forward with something called Community Choice Aggregation.
The program is one component of the New York State’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy, which seeks to reduce dependence on fossil fuels across the state. Residents in communities that opt for CCA are able to band together to negotiate with their electric utilities to demand that the power they use comes from sustainable sources — be it solar, wind, or hydropower.
In doing so, they gain more than a clear conscience. In Westchester, residents have saved about $10 million since the program was established in 2016. So, what’s not to like about that?
Two weeks ago, town employees and members of its sustainability committee, who have been charged with helping the town obtain its goal of providing all its electricity through green sources by 2025, appeared before the town board to ask its members to schedule a public hearing on creating its own CCA.
Lynn Arthur, a member of the town’s sustainability committee and a local expert and valuable resource on energy issues, said the value of a CCA went beyond savings going into consumers’ pockets. Communities with such programs in place gain the right to have their voices heard when their local utility plans major capital projects.
She noted that the Long Island Power Authority, which provides our electricity, has plans to install a $513 million transmission line to bring in more juice to eastern Southampton Town and East Hampton Town, where demand for power continues to grow.
Strangely, though, the request drew some resistance from Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, who seemed more interested in erecting roadblocks than in giving residents a chance to weigh in on the matter. We’d like to think the supervisor was just being extra careful and considering every angle, as he typically does, and the board will move swiftly to schedule a hearing on this proposal.