Landmark Deal In Westchester Allows Consumers To Choose Clean Energy

17 of the 20 municipalities in the Westchester Smart Power program, an initiative of the Sustainable Westchester Group, have agreed to terms with ConEdison Solutions to supply 90,000 homes and businesses with fixed-rate, clean energy. The utility will provide electricity generated from wind, solar and hydro projects, and will allow users to choose between 100 percent renewable energy, or a mix of renewable and traditional energy at a lower price.

The agreement will constitute one of the largest community choice aggregation programs for Con Edison thus far, and the first in New York State. ConEdison supplies power for 25 such programs throughout Massachusetts and New Jersey. It could further cut electricity costs for residents by up to $10 million annually.

Plans have hit a snag, however, in the remaining three areas, which do not use ConEdison as a supplier. The three – Lewisboro, North Salem and Somers, along with a fragment of Bedford – rely on NYSEG, and have not received compliant bids. Some 20,000 customers reside in NYSEG service areas. Sustainable Westchester has vowed to continue attempts at reaching an accord.

Residents of ConEd service areas can expect to receive their first bills for the program in May. The architects of the agreement plan to reach 100 percent renewable energy for the county within the next four years.

Community choice aggregation programs allow groups of municipalities to negotiate terms for buying electricity in bulk. Though Governor Andrew Cuomo has pushed for such programs in New York State, efforts have fallen short until now. Advocates of clean power hope to see a domino effect in the state. In response to the development in Westchester, three neighboring counties – Sullivan, Dutchess and Ulster – have begun developing their own initiatives. In Ostego County, the local Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance corporation has pressured lawmakers to join as well.