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Board Rejoins Sustainable Westchester

by Cindy Goldstein -

 

The July 8th Board of Trustees (BOT) Work Session included a presentation by Sustainable Westchester.  Former New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson made the case for the Village to re-join the municipal consortium.  Because of problems with scheduling the presentation to the BOT, time was a major concern.  In order for us to be included in the new price negotiations, the BOT had to make their decision about whether to continue with the green energy program the same night as the presentation.  See presentation HERE

 

The Threat of Climate Change

Bramson’s opening remarks were an overview of the non-profit organization’s urgent mission to deal with climate change.  He discussed the particular vulnerability of local communities – including the Village of Mamaroneck – to devastating flooding, poor air quality and the financial burden imposed by our changing climate patterns.

 

Goals

The program – Westchester Power - has three goals:  to provide clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expand consumer choice and cap electricity costs.  The somewhat confusing aspect is that if the municipality joins the consortium, the default for every eligible customer is to be a member.  In other words, if the municipality joins, then every customer is automatically enrolled.  It is fairly easy to “opt out” and go to another electricity service provider or ConEd – if you know you have the choice.  Bramson acknowledged that their consumer support and education outreach hasn’t been as robust as it should be, and they are working to make it better.

 

How It Works

In brief, the program joins participating municipalities together (currently there are 29 members out of 49 communities in Westchester) and Sustainable Westchester enters a bidding process to provide clean, renewable energy under a fixed price contract to the customers.  Every customer in a participating municipality is automatically enrolled in the program.  Customers are then notified and may “opt out” of the program at any time and sign up with a different provider (including ConEd).  According to Bramson, more choices encourage more competition among providers.

 

Unlike other providers, Sustainable Westchester offers a fixed rate to consumers who are in their program.  Other providers charge fluctuating rates which may go down – or up.  Metrics showing significant reductions in carbon emissions are in the presentation.  In addition, participation by a municipality makes them eligible to accrue “points” that give access to NYS grants.

 

Bramson admitted that current contract ended up at a higher rate than ConEd offered but that over time the program has resulted in savings for consumers.  He was optimistic that the upcoming contract would be more favorable.  An interesting aspect of the program is that a consumer may “opt out” at any time and may also “opt in” again as many times as they like.  But many consumers don’t even know about the program and that they have choices. 

 

How To Opt Out

There are several ways to switch to a different provider:

3)    Call them at: 914-242-4725 extension 111

 

Bramson emphasized again that Sustainable Westchester provided a fixed rate program to supply electricity – but not delivery.  That portion of the bill is controlled only by Constellation New Energy.  Bramson promised to work with the Village to do a customized communication plan to improve awareness and options within the program.

 

At the end of the presentation the BOT voted to move this item to the regular board meeting where they approved continuing participation with the consortium at the “greenest” level of 100% renewable energy.  Customers would have an additional choice to drop to a 50% renewable energy program or opt out entirely.



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