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New York PSC Approves Renewal Of Sustainable Westchester Opt-Out Municipal Aggregation

Affirms Ability To Serve Assistance Program Customers Without Guaranteeing Savings Ends With Any New Contract

November 15, 2018

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Copyright 2010-17
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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The New York PSC has authorized the renewal of Sustainable Westchester (SW), Inc.'s opt-out municipal electricity aggregation program (Westchester Power), also known as community choice aggregation (CCA)

Consistent with recent PSC decisions (see story here), under the re-authorization Westchester Power will not be able to serve assistance program participant (APP) customers under any new ESCO contract, except where the customer is guaranteed savings versus default service.

As SW's original ESCO aggregation contract had pre-dated the PSC's guaranteed savings requirement for APP customers in municipal aggregations, SW has been permitted to continue to serve APP customers, without a savings guarantee, under its existing ESCO contracts.

SW's supply contract for the Westchester Power municipalities in the ConEdison territory (roughly 85,000 customers) ends on December 31, 2018, and SW has initiated a process to award a new supply contract

SW reports that, as of July 2018, the Westchester Power has approximately 100,000 participants, 70,000 of which are in its Green Supply option, in 21 municipalities.

A final re-authorization order was not available at publication time

The PSC generally adopted Staff's recommendations regarding SW's re-authorization.

A draft discussion concerning Staff's recommendations provided that Sustainable Westchester, Inc. must hold at least one additional public outreach meeting in each municipality after selecting an Energy Service Company and prior to opt-out letters being mailed to residents and must make a compliance filing or filings prior to mailing the opt-out letters demonstrating that such meetings were held.

The draft discussion document provided that Sustainable Westchester, Inc. shall be permitted to add municipalities to its existing Community Choice Aggregation program or create new programs, provided it files certifications of each local authorization for Community Choice Aggregation formation from each municipality and supplements to the existing Plan appendices, or submits a new appendix, demonstrating that outreach and education is consistent with the Master Implementation Plan and applicable Commission Orders

The draft discussion document noted that SW's supply contracts, both current and upcoming, include a Green supply option. When the current contracts were entered, the Commission had not yet provided requirements for offering a green energy product in the context of CCA. However, such requirements were established in the Joule Order (Case 14-M-0224, et al., Community Choice Aggregation, Order Approving Joule Assets’ Community Choice Aggregation Program with Modifications (issued March 16, 2018)).

In the Joule Order, the Commission had specified that green energy must be generated by biomass, biogas, hydropower, solar energy, or wind energy and deliver in New York State, as defined and subject to the environmental attributes and delivery rules of the Commission’s Environmental Disclosure Program. In addition, ESCOs selling green products are required to disclose to customers the premium the customer will be charged for the purchase of the green product separate from the underlying commodity charge, and ESCOs providing green energy in the context of CCA must maintain auditable New-York-specific records to demonstrate that such customers are receiving green energy compliant with the environmental attributes and delivery rules of the Commission’s Environmental Disclosure Program. The Commission also cautioned that failure to maintain such auditable New York specific records or to allow access to such records by Department of Public Service Staff or its designee would be grounds for disqualifying the ESCO or its affiliates from using the utility distribution systems to provide any services to any customers in New York State.

The draft discussion document provided that SW will need to ensure that the Green supply option in its program is in compliance with the requirements that have been established, as described above

The draft discussion document noted that the CCA Framework Order encouraged the development of CCA programs that included integration of DERs, procurement of clean energy, provided value to the customers, and further evolved the utility business model and earnings opportunities as envisioned by REV.

The draft discussion document noted that the integration of an opt-out community solar program has the potential to create meaningful benefits to mass market customers, as well as support local and State clean energy goals.

The draft discussion document noted that, "Though SW is not creating such a program currently, if it chooses to add an opt-out community solar component to the Program in the future, it must file an Implementation Plan consistent with the requirements outlined in the Joule Order, as well as any other applicable orders, for Commission review and approval."

Case 14-M-0564

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