What's the difference between the town's two renewable energy programs?
It’s ok if you’re a little confused about the town’s two renewable energy programs. They have similar names and the timing overlapped. Here’s a try on untangling them.
The town launched a Community Distributed Generation program (CDG) with a town hall meeting in December of 2018. We called the local program Geneva Community Power. This is the one where the town was working to get 400 people to sign up to receive electricity from a solar farm now being built, for which customers will receive about a 10% discount on the cost of electricity. The goal was met on June 26, although people can continue to sign up (any standard NYSEG customer in the Finger Lakes region is eligible). By getting 400 subscribers, the solar farm got its customers and the town gets $25,000. We are trying to increase this to $100,000 with a grant application, and will use the money to do storm-water control projects to protect Seneca Lake.
The other program is called Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), which the town authorized over two years ago. It took that long to get approvals through the state Public Service Commission, approve a contract, and go out to bid with other municipalities. The town called the recent roll-out Finger Lakes Community Choice. We did not plan to do the CCA bid in the middle of the CDG campaign, but it turned out a bid with municipalities in the Hudson River valley was available, so the town proceeded. In hindsight, it might have been better to pass on that one, but it’s too late now. The town accepted a bid that complied with two conditions we set: it had to be below the NYSEG average for the past year, and it had to be 100% NY renewable energy. Unfortunately, the NYSEG rate is currently a bit below the Direct Energy price that was accepted, but that may change. The town’s rate is set for two years, and our contract allows subscribers to opt out without penalty at any time.
Town residents may participate in both programs, either one, or neither. Area residents and small businesses may participate in the CDG program, Geneva Community Power. The bottom line is most Town of Geneva residents are now getting their electricity from 100% NY renewable sources (hydro and wind), and some are also getting about 10% off of their electricity charge by subscribing to a solar farm. It’s exciting to be heading in the right direction and making progress.