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You are invited to speak out on Wed, September 23rd at 7:30 PM at our Town Board meeting on the Sustainable Westchester green energy initiativeWe want to hear your views before making a decision
Greenburgh may be getting greener!
GREENBURGH TOWN BOARD TO PROVIDE COMMUNITY WITH OPPORTUNITY TO AIR YOUR COMMENTS ABOUT THIS PROPOSAL ON WEDNESDAY September 23rd AT 7:30 PM AT OUR TOWN BOARD MEETING
(meeting will be held remotely -a zoom meeting)
In Westchester County, 27 cities, towns, and villages have come together to buy electricity in bulk through Sustainable Westchester’s community energy program, known as Westchester Power. Twenty-four of those municipalities are in a 100% renewable electricity supply. The Town of Greenburgh had participated in the Westchester Power program (the program that does not support 100% renewable electricity supply) since it began in 2016 and will not renew the current ESCO agreement because Con Ed rates have been lower. But, we are going to consider participating in the 100% renewable electricity program. Before the Town Board makes any commitment we want to hear from you -and have decided to invite residents to testify for or against the proposal next Wed. The following is a summary of the program as presented by Sustainable Westchester.
Renewable Energy and Climate Resilience
Community-scale clean energy programs are key to achieving New York’s nation-leading climate goals, which include sourcing 70% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, up from 28% currently.
Sustainable Westchester is developing a robust set of programs to ensure that Westchester County is on track to achieve New York’s climate goals. As envisioned by the state, the Westchester Power program provides a foundation, which other initiatives can grow from. At the Town Board meeting on September 8, representatives from Sustainable Westchester discussed one such initiative, an Opt-out Community Solar program, which will bring low-income residents an opportunity to support local renewable energy projects, while receiving up to 10% guaranteed savings on their total electricity bill.
Participating in the renewable energy supply program is the single most significant contributor to lowering CO2 emissions currently available for municipalities, helping our communities mitigate the environmental effects of climate change. This is one reason why the other participants in Westchester Power have committed to continuing their participation. Joining the Westchester Power program with the renewable default supply is consistent with the Town’s proud history of environmental achievement, including one of the first installations of solar panels on a municipal building, promoting energy conservation, and establishing and supporting food scrap recycling programs.
Some have inquired why the program is not available on an opt-out basis. Community Choice Aggregation programs nationwide have demonstrated that the opt out structure is the most effective and beneficial mechanism for whole Towns to leverage their collective buying power to transition to renewable electricity at competitive rates. The opt-out structure is perhaps the key feature of the overall program. I have suggested that if the town participates in this program that Sustainable Westchester be required to send a mailing to every resident at the beginning of the program - paid for by Sustainable Westchester describing the program and offering residents the opportunity to opt out. The mailing should be written by the town and will clearly highlight recent price comparisons (Con Ed rates vs. Sustainable Westchester rates)
Power to Choose
It is important to note that every individual still has the power to choose their electricity supply. As we have indicated in the past, anyone who has opted out of the program already or who has selected an ESCO will not be brought in to the Westchester Power program or receive mailings about the program from Sustainable Westchester.
Additionally, individuals maintain the right to switch their supply option. Although the default supply option in Greenburgh is the Basic Supply, 130 households in Greenburgh have opted up to renewable supply already through Westchester Power. Those 130 families, and every other Greenburgh Town resident, would no longer be eligible to participate in the program if the Town does not continue.
Over the past contract, we have seen very low Con Ed rates. We understand the financial concerns from the performance of the last contract and we, too, are disappointed in how the rates performed; however, we would like to encourage you to look forward since the contract in question begins January 1, 2021. The not-to-exceed price target, which energy companies must meet, is 7.65 cents, meaning a green supply for Greenburgh residents and small businesses will cost less than the current standard supply (7.71 cents per kWh). This is also the lowest price currently available for a comparable renewable power supply (12-month fixed rate contract with no cancellation fees).
We want individuals to be able to make an informed choice and we have increased our commitment to effective and timely communication. As such, we have agreed to grow our outreach to make residents more aware of their participation. In addition to providing toolkits, quarterly reports, and information for the Town website and our own website we will continue to hold virtual information sessions, as we did with two sessions this summer. We are looking forward to increasing outreach in the Town in partnership with the Greenburgh Nature Center and other community organizations.
We have also agreed to send out an annual postcard with information from the Town informing residents of their participation and to let them know how to opt out easily if they choose to do so. Rate comparisons are always posted on our website, and we would be happy to create a Greenburgh-specific webpage for people to get the latest information.
Foundation for Further Initiatives Benefiting Greenburgh Residents
This program is not just about lowering electricity rates; it is about ensuring a livable future for all Westchester residents. We are meeting that goal by building on the success of the Westchester Power program through initiatives like community solar for low-income families. As mentioned above, we are pleased to commit to at least 7.1% participation by low-income Greenburgh families in our opt-out community solar program that is tied to the Westchester Power program. We are also actively seeking community solar opportunities for the Greenburgh Housing Authority or other local organizations that serve your low-income residents.
We believe that participating will enable the Town to be optimally positioned for funding for other Town sustainability objectives through the Clean Energy Communities grant program (historically, up to $250,000) and other sources. These can certainly be measures that reduce operating expenses as well as reducing capital investments by the Town itself.
Right now, we are seeing the cost of climate change - extreme heat and wildfires are decimating millions of acres in the West, increased storms are battering the Northeast and South, tornadoes in the Midwest - and this cost is in dollars, but also resources and lives lost and otherwise impacted. Our purpose is to create a sustainable future.
On Wednesday, September 23, the Town Board will be taking public comments from residents to decide if it would like to join its neighboring communities in joining the Westchester Power program with the renewable electricity supply.
If you would like to have your voice heard, you can reach out in the following ways:
· Email to the Board: The Town is inviting residents to speak in support, or against, the decision to continue in the program (and switch to a renewable default) in Wednesday’s (9/23) regular session. You can leave comments for the meeting by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
· Speak at the meeting on the 23rd: It would be even more effective if you could attend (via “Zoom” online) and express your VIEWS directly at the meeting. E mail email@example.com if you want to be invited to the zoom meeting and want to speak--for or against this proposal.:
o Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to speak or provide written comment (up to three minutes) during Public Comment. If you have a statement you want read, please include the statement with your email. For Zoom participation, we will contact you with further instructions before the meeting.
· Ask neighbors who have thoughts on this proposal to weigh in
Please consider also referring neighbors who you feel might be of like mind to the meeting and opportunity to weigh in as well. A simple email would be helpful.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor