As global warming accelerates, an effort to give consumers in East Hampton the ability to purchase energy from green sources, such as wind or solar, is gaining steam.
Gordian Raacke, executive director of East Hampton-based Renewable Energy Long Island, led two discussion groups this past week at East Hampton Town Hall to explain the opportunity for a sustainable energy program called Community Choice Aggregation.
Currently, when you send your check to PSEG, he said, that utility uses the money to cover both the creation of the power, usually by burning fossil fuels, and the infrastructure costs of delivering it to the consumer. The latter part will remain the same under program, however by banding together under a CCA, the administrator hired by local municipalities will be able to purchase the power directly from green sources. Raacke said there would likely still be one bill generated for the consumer.
In a pamphlet about the CCA program distributed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, it states “Depending on local needs and priorities, communities may elect to provide a 100 percent renewable energy product as the default (power) supply.”
Initially, Raacke warns, this will not necessarily result in savings, though he believes, ultimately, it will. Customers have the choice to opt out of the program at any point as well. As a state-run power company, Long Island Power Authority is exempt from CCA regulations, however, it has shown willingness to work with local municipalities to make the CCA dream a reality. Meanwhile, the authority is still paying off debt from the failure of the Shoreham nuclear power plant, limiting the cost-saving potential.
The Accabonac Solar Farm would be one option for power under the Community Choice Aggregation partnership. According to East Hampton’s website, that solar farm should be online by the end of the year.
The next steps toward creating an East Hampton CCA will be handled by the town board, which will need to craft the required legislation, and schedule a public hearing.
Southampton’s town board approved the creation of a CCA earlier this year, as part of its goal of going 100 percent renewable by 2025.