A TURBULENT YEAR FOR THE ENERGY MARKET AND LOCAL UTILITY SHINES LIGHT ON THE POWER OF LOCAL CONTROL OVER ENERGY CHOICES
Hudson Valley — January 5, 2023 — Joule Community Power
(a division of Joule Assets) is proud to announce that participants in Joule’s community-based renewable energy CCA program-Hudson Valley Community Power, saved more than $7 million over 13 months. This year’s record high volatility, high energy prices and inflation have had a significant impact on household bills. Meanwhile, some communities have protected their residents from feeling the brunt of these upward swings in the energy market by implementing Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs, providing price stability and competitive electricity supply rates. The home owners, renters, small businesses, and other participants of the local CCA program, Hudson Valley Community Power, paid a rate for 100% NY State renewable electricity
that was lower than the utility’s rate for a fossil fuel-based electricity option 10 out of 13 months of the program contract, saving participants more than $7 million
July 2021 – July 2022. A turbulent year in local energy news sparks an exploration of new opportunities. Early return to the utility electricity supply:
Hudson Valley Community Power participants were returned early to Central Hudson electricity supply. In July 2022, in violation of a Court Order, Columbia Utilities, the selected supplier, ceased serving customers, and the customers were then returned to Central Hudson’s fossil-fuel based electricity supply option with no interruption in service.
Eight municipalities, Joule (the program’s administrator), and two local residents, as plaintiffs sued Columbia for breach of contract, maintaining that Columbia had no justification for terminating the contract. And the Public Service Commission also intervened in support of the lawsuit. The parties are currently conducting discovery. Once discovery is completed, the Court is expected to hold a hearing and rule on plaintiffs’ requests for preliminary relief. Central Hudson billing issues:
Alongside rising and volatile electricity rates, Hudson Valley residents have faced unreliable billing from the utility, Central Hudson, causing distrust among residents. Central Hudson has had several issues after updating its customer information system, leaving many customers without bills for months. As a result of these utility billing issues, the NY Public Service Commission (PSC) and Senator Skoufis’ office have both launched an investigation with the ultimate goal of holding Central Hudson accountable for such issues. In addition, the Public Service Commission is proposing financial penalties for all New York investor-owned utility shareholders if minimum performance requirements are not met for community solar billing and crediting.New opportunities and next steps:
Despite the challenges in 2022, municipal leaders continue to act to protect their residents and move towards a cleaner energy future. Local leaders are now exploring the opportunity of a new CCA electricity supply agreement through Hudson Valley Community Power in Spring, 2023. The cities, towns, and villages which choose to move forward would see a new electricity rate for their residents and small businesses, with the opportunity to continue to save residents money while strengthening consumer protections.
Jessica Stromback, Joule CEO states “This year, among increasing energy prices and rising inflation, Joule is proud to have supported New York municipal leaders in protecting their community members. The fact that this was done while still providing 100% New York State renewable electricity is amazing. Local leadership truly creates global impact.”
Joule acts as the program administrator for Hudson Valley Community Power and provides ongoing support, education, and outreach in the communities. Joule’s local electricity supply programs have saved residents and small business across NY State a total of $11.5 million as of October 31, 2022, while shifting entire communities to renewable electricity. All but one of the municipalities who have implemented CCA programs through Joule have selected 100% renewable electricity offerings as the default energy supply for their communities, allowing them to reach their sustainability goals and significantly lower their carbon footprint while strengthening consumer protections.
Mike Gordon, Joule Founder and Chief Strategy Officer looks ahead at CCA’s potential, stating "Beyond savings, what we are doing now shifting communities over to existing renewable energy sources through CCA, is the tip of the iceberg with respect to what is possible. CCAs also have the ability to spark the construction of many MWs of new renewable power plants in future, creating quality jobs across the state, with regulatory ambition and oversight. We look forward to future opportunities for development."
___________________________________ABOUT JOULE COMMUNITY POWER
Joule Community Power is committed to developing a clean energy future for all. Through its comprehensive portfolio of community choice aggregation and sustainability services, Joule ensures the at-scale uptake and deployment of new clean energy resources, enabling municipalities to deliver on their sustainability objectives. Joule's programs empower municipalities to make energy decisions for their own communities, thereby enabling local decision-making and empowerment. In doing so, Joule is shifting New York State’s energy dependency from a utility-controlled, fossil fuel model to a municipally-controlled clean, renewable energy model for thousands of households at a time. As a first mover, in 2021, Joule launched the first and only opt-out community solar program in the U.S., bringing the benefits of solar—including guaranteed electricity bill savings—to entire communities. As of September 31, 2022, Joule represented 800,000 New Yorkers in 50 municipalities
. 23 Joule municipalities had active CCA programs 2022 and are located in 5 different NY utility territories. The participants in these communities saved a total of $11.5 million on their utility bills in 2022 by paying the stabilized CCA electricity rate, instead of the local utility’s variable electricity supply rate. Additionally, Joule enables consumers and institutions to take action and benefit from New York State’s ongoing investment in sustainability initiatives.ABOUT COMMUNITY CHOICE AGGREGATION (CCA)
CCA is a program authorized, regulated, and promoted by NY State which empowers local municipalities, rather than the state, to select the default energy supply offering for their residents (homeowners and renters), small businesses and other local organizations such as libraries, schools, and churches. Through CCA, municipalities can leverage their aggregated buying power to secure competitively priced energy, secure stable prices, strengthen consumer protections and source clean energy.