STATE INVESTIGATES ENERGY SUPPLIER COLUMBIA UTILITIES POWER
Hudson Valley (July 28, 2022)— As of July 19, 2022, Hudson Valley Community Power Customers were returned to Central Hudson electricity supply service as a result of a default by program energy supplier Columbia Utilities Power, LLC (Columbia). Customers will no longer receive a fixed rate for 100% renewable electricity supply through the Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program, Hudson Valley Community Power. This Program is composed of residents and small businesses in the Cities of Beacon, and Poughkeepsie, the Towns of Clinton, Marbletown, New Paltz, Philipstown, Red Hook, and Saugerties, and the Villages of Cold Spring and New Paltz. In returning to Central Hudson customers will also return to a variable electricity rate. The amount residents pay per kWh will change each month. The electricity will also no longer be 100% renewable.
Residents will not experience any interruption in service. However, the transition back to Central Hudson took place midway through most customer bill cycles. Customers will therefore receive one bill for the electricity used before the transition, the Community Power rate of $0.06573 /kWh (6.57 cents/kWh) for residential customers for 100% renewable electricity and one bill for the electricity used after the transition, the July Central Hudson rate of around $0.0617 /kWh (6.17 cents/kWh) for residential customers. Town of Saugerties Community Power participants had a rate of $0.07289 /kWh (7.29 cents/kWh) for residential customers for 100% renewable electricity supply.
Central Hudson will be sending out letters to further inform participants of this shift. Hudson Valley Community Power has also sent letters to customers.
Prior to the transfer, through the efforts of participating municipalities and program administrator Joule Assets, participants have collectively saved in excess of $8 million through the program’s fixed electricity supply rate since program renewal in July 2021 -- a savings of between $300-400 for the average household. In addition to savings, the program’s 100% NYS renewable supply has significantly reduced the community’s carbon footprint and advanced the State’s clean energy goals. These benefits are due largely to the support of the municipalities pioneering this renewable electricity program in the region. While this phase of the program is ending earlier than expected, Joule is working with municipal leadership to deliver new clean energy program offerings in the future.
The early return of participants to Central Hudson was prompted by Columbia, failing to meet the requirements of the New York grid operator (NYISO). According to the NYISO website: ‘The NYISO, by correspondence dated July 12, 2022, declared Columbia Utilities in default, (….) for failure to comply with the NYISO’s creditworthiness requirements. Columbia Utilities remains in default under the NYISO’s tariffs.’
In June, Joule and participating municipalities commenced a lawsuit against Columbia in Ulster County for breach of Contract, and on June 7, the Court granted the request for a temporary restraining order prohibiting transfer of customers back to Central Hudson.
On July 26, the New York Department of Public Service Office of Investigations and Enforcement submitted a letter to the Court stating that the “[DPS] has initiated an independent administrative investigation into the actions of Columbia and its officers, agents and employees” to investigate why Columbia defaulted on its obligations to the municipalities and the NYISO, citing questions about Columbia’s finances and underlying energy supply contracts as reasons for the investigation.
Joule CEO Jessica Stromback says, “Under the CCA Program, customers have saved in excess of $8 million in electricity costs. It’s been hugely beneficial. We are therefore very disappointed that Columbia will not continue to honor its obligations and promises to its customers and communities. We are very encouraged to learn that the State Department of Public Service has officially launched an investigation into Columbia’s actions. The public deserves answers about why Columbia dropped them. We’re grateful that the DPS is now demanding those answers. We will also continue to demand answers in our existing court case.”
The Hudson Valley Community Power customer support team is available to answer questions. Customers should feel free to call (845) 859-9099 ext.5 or email email@example.com. For information and updates visit www.hudsonvalleycommunitypower.com
About Joule Assets
Joule Assets actively empowers communities, businesses, investors, and individuals to capitalize on Sustainable Energy Assets in the U.S. and Europe by expanding small customer market access, encouraging community-scale clean energy programs and facilitating energy efficiency markets. Based on years of regulatory expertise, market intelligence, and performance-based financing knowledge, Joule negotiates cheaper, cleaner energy supply on behalf of communities in NY State. In Europe, Joule supports the access to financing for efficiency and renewables projects, catalyzing the marketplace for project developers and investors. Each business unit–Joule Community Power and Joule Europe–supports Joule’s overarching mission to shift the energy paradigm towards clean and efficient energy for all.