After a brief pause in providing electricity supply service, Westchester Power, a program of nonprofit, Sustainable Westchester, is set to resume services this Fall for the 24* participating municipalities. The six-year-old program continues to serve as the New York State model for community energy programs, offering 100% renewable energy, along with a standard supply option, to residents and small businesses in participating cities, towns, and villages across Westchester.
Marketplace conditions, driven by global events (e.g., the war in Ukraine), have resulted in the price of natural gas, the primary driver for the electricity market, more than tripling in just a year and a half. Market volatility and rate uncertainty necessitated a brief pause in the Westchester Power electricity service upon the lapse of the previous contract that expired on June 30, 2022.
“The goal of the Westchester Power program is to be able to deliver consumer choice, a positive environmental impact and access to renewable energy at competitive rates,” states Nina Orville, Executive Director of Sustainable Westchester. “The extreme and unexpected market volatility this year forced us to delay the solicitation and ultimately to pause the supply service, so we are glad that we will now be able to restore the Westchester Power option for residents and small businesses. While it has been a challenging process, we are grateful to the participating municipalities who worked closely with us and continued to show their support for this important clean energy initiative,” she added.
The New Contract
After an open bidding process, a contract has been awarded to Constellation New Energy for a two-year term that begins November 1, 2022 and runs until October 31, 2024, with rates as follows:
100% Renewable Supply: 15.128 cents/kWh
Standard Supply: 13.364 cents/kWh
“We went into the bid carrying the collective trepidation of all of our experience with this volatile market over the past year which saw Con Edison utility rates as high as 17 cents and averaging over 11 cents through August. Though the new contract rates are much higher than our last contract, we’re pleased that our bid results are competitive with today’s rates for renewable energy from the major ESCOs which range from the low 16 cents to well over 19 cents,” noted Dan Welsh, Sustainable Westchester’s Program Director for Westchester Power. “Staying at the lowest end of comparable offerings, as the program has done consistently in the past, was an important benchmark for us” continues Dan Welsh.
The daily news has not shown any signs that the market pressures from the war in Ukraine, natural gas exports, and climate change will lessen. In that context, the fixed price format continues to provide an insurance against this continued market volatility as well as serving as a price cap. The consumer-friendly nature of the program offers participants the ability to opt out or in at any time without any fee or penalty.
The program continues to provide electricity supply to residents of the City of Yonkers (under a separate contract through November 30, 2023) and to residents and small businesses in participating Northern Westchester municipalities in the NYSEG utility service area (under a separate contract that also runs through November 30, 2023).
Program Impact & Benefits
- Collective participation in the program has resulted in the reduction of 166,000 metric tons of CO2 in 2021 which is the equivalent of taking 36,800 cars off the road for one year.
- This vetted, proven program offers consumer choice without having to navigate the confusing offers from Energy Services Companies (ESCOs).
- Without any penalties or complicated contracts, the program allows participants to opt-in or out at any time at no cost.
- The fixed-rate structure provides protection from the variable and volatile electricity supply pricing typical of the utility and serves as a price cap for participants for the two years of the current Westchester Power program contract (November 1, 2022 – October 30, 2024).
- The program offers competitive rates for renewable energy supply (vs. ESCOs)
- Nonprofit Sustainable Westchester provides education, clean energy advocacy, and customer service. In this program there is no change in the delivery of your electricity, billing process or emergency response – Con Edison continues to maintain this function. (Please note that Westchester Power is not involved in the rate structure for the delivery of electricity via Con Edison).
The Westchester Power program, regulated by the Public Service Commission, has also laid the groundwork for additional clean energy programs that offer savings including:
- GridRewards™, a residential demand response program, that provides energy, money savings as well as the opportunity to earn cash rewards for energy savings action. Residents can find further information and sign-up at sustainablewestchester.org/gridrewards.
- Community Solar, which provides up to 10% savings through solar credits on residents electricity bills. Residents can find further information at sustainablewestchester.org/solar
What’s Next for Residents in the 24 Participating Municipalities?
- August 31-September 2nd: Information sessions for community members to get their first opportunity to learn about what’s gone on with the program over this year, discuss the new contract details and understand the market conditions behind an expected rise in energy prices for the foreseeable future. Participants will have the opportunity to get some questions answered early on about what lies ahead for the program and how it affects them.
- Mid-September: Eligible participants will receive enrollment notification letters in the mail and be alerted to the 30-day window for initial opt out before the rates go into effect and they become enrolled (participants have the ability to opt-out anytime, this is just a period to make decisions about your enrollment before the program resumes).
- Additional information sessions will be held over the course of the 30-day opt out period for community members to learn more about the program and get their questions answered.
- Participants will begin enrolling in the program starting on their first meter-read date on or after November 1st.
- Upon receipt of the letter, eligible participants need not take action if they want to be enrolled in the program, action is required only if you wish to opt out or change your supply choice.
- Anyone who has opted out of the program previously will not receive a notification letter and to be re-enrolled.
- Residents with questions can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 914-242-4725 Ext. 111
*This change DOES NOT APPLY to Yonkers residents. The following ConEdison territory municipalities that participate in the program are affected: Village of Ardsley, Town of Bedford Town (ConEdison service only),Village of Croton-on-Hudson, Village of Dobbs Ferry,Town of Greenburgh, Village of Hastings-on-Hudson, Village of Irvington, Village of Larchmont, Town of Mamaroneck, Village of Mamaroneck, Village of Mount Kisco, Town of New Castle, CIty of New Rochelle, Town of Ossining, Village of Ossining, City of Peekskill, Village of Pelham Village, Village of Pleasantville, Village of Rye Brook, City of Rye, Village of Sleepy Hollow, Village of Tarrytown, Village of Tuckahoe, City of White Plains.