As part of the Town of Bedford’s Climate Action Plan to reduce emissions by promoting clean and renewable energy, the Town participates in a Community Choice Aggregation program, which permits residents to contribute to these goals.
What is Community Choice Aggregation (CCA)?
In 2015 New York State made it possible for towns and villages to join together and bid for electricity supply that meets their municipal goals using something called Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). CCA allows towns and villages to leverage their buying power to bid for electric supply for their residents to aim to get a better price and a cleaner supply. The CCA that the Town of Bedford participates in is called Westchester Power and it is run by Sustainable Westchester and includes 29 municipalities in Westchester.
Using a CCA, towns may make their CCA energy supplier the default supplier for residents and small businesses in their municipality. Before CCA became the default, the electric supplier your utility contracted with was the default supply for everyone serviced by that utility. The distribution of that supply still comes to your home via the wires and towers known as the electric grid which are still managed by the utility – in Bedford that is NSEG for most, ConEd for some. You do not get to choose your utility. The utility still bills you for both distribution and maintenance as well as for your supply even if it is with a different supplier than the one they offer.
Utility companies used to have a monopoly on energy supply, but many years ago that market was deregulated and now people may choose their own energy supplier. Regardless of what is set as the “default,” you may choose to go with a supplier your utility chooses, find an Energy Services Company (ESCO) you like and sign a contract with them, or go with the renewable or standard supply the CCA offers. Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) are often part of any “green” supply offer to offset a standard “brown” supply with renewable energy being generated elsewhere. Unlike an ESCO, which usually locks you in for a term, you may opt in or out of the CCA or your utility supply anytime.
Over the years, the Town has entered into agreements with Sustainable Westchester, an organization that administers a CCA called Westchester Power. Westchester Power goes out to bid for the energy supply for the participating municipalities to get the best price for both standard and renewable energy supply.
This year, for the new NYSEG contract which begins on December 1, 2023, Westchester Power was not able to find a supplier who could meet the municipalities’ cost threshold for 100% renewable energy, so the CCA participants agreed to a contract for 50% renewable supply. This contract still facilitates clean energy goals but at a level that contains the fixed cost as outlined in the contract with Westchester Power.
Opting In, Opting Up and Opting Out
- Stay-In: Bedford residents who have not opted out of the CCA program in the past (and are eligible) will continue to be in the CCA under the new contract when it begins. There is no action required to remain in the program.
- Opt-Up: During contracts/years when energy purchased is not 100% clean energy (or if in the past you have selected the CCA standard, not green, supply) residents may Opt-Up, which means purchase a higher level of clean energy.
- Opt-Down: The default supply is for the renewable energy option. Customers may opt for the standard supply offered by the CCA at any time.
- Opt-Out: Residents may opt-out of the CCA at any time.
- Opt-In: If you are not currently in the CCA, you may join to get a fixed rate for either the renewable “green” or standard “brown" supply any time.
Sustainable Westchester negotiates fixed rates for energy with each contract. NYSEG & ConEd have suppliers with variable rates. The difference in these strategies may result in cost savings or increase, depending upon the way in which the variable market rates compare to the fixed rates.
Bedford’s Contributions to Renewal Energy
Since 2015, Bedford community members have reduced polluting carbon emissions by purchasing their electricity through the Westchester Power community choice aggregation (CCA) program. This program helped to avoid 219,000 Metric Tons of CO2 for 2022; the equivalent of 3.6M trees grown for 10 years, or 49K cars taken off the road for 1 year. (Sustainable Westchester)
The body that regulates the utilities in New York is called the Public Service Commission. They require that letters are sent to notify customers of changes to their electric supply, which is why if you are in the CCA you will get a letter from Sustainable Westchester/Westchester power notifying you of the new contract and the name of the supplier. You will also get a letter from your utility and another letter directly from the supplier. In each case, if you want to stay in the CCA, you don’t have to do anything.
 You may not be eligible to participate in the CCA if you have contracted separately with an ESCO or if you have Day/Night rates with your utility.