Opinion by Kip Hansen — 11 May 2023
My local town has just chosen, for us, the residents of the town, to pay more for “renewable” energy.
“The Town of ##### is pleased to announce our participation in the program relaunch of ##### #### Community Power, a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program administered by Joule Community Power, a division of Joule Assests, Inc. that puts control of energy supply choices into local hands.”
[Note: In this part of the USA a town is: “an urban area that has a name, defined boundaries, and local government, and that is generally larger than a village and smaller than a city.”]
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains it this way:
“CCA [Community Choice Aggregation] —also known as municipal aggregation—programs allow local governments to procure power on behalf of their residents, businesses, and municipal accounts from an alternative supplier while still receiving transmission and distribution service from their existing utility provider. CCAs are an attractive option for communities that want more local control over their electricity sources, more green power than is offered by the default utility, and/or lower electricity prices. By aggregating demand, communities gain leverage to negotiate better rates with competitive suppliers and choose greener power sources.”
That sounds nice, and in part, it can offer lower electricity prices – through the aggregation step:
“Prices for electricity under CCAs may be lower than the residential retail price for electricity—sometimes by 15 to 20 percent—because of the collective buying power of entire communities and current market trends. CCA customers continue to receive the same delivery and maintenance services from their local utility, with a single utility bill that reflects the change in supplier. The only changes for customers are the sources and prices of electricity generation.”
And in the case of my community, this turns out to be the case. Customers of the CCA will receive electricity at a rate ($/kWh) that is 6% less than last year’s average price charged by our local utility company.
But there is a hook – a trick – an unexpected ‘gotcha’ in the program. In the quote from the EPA above, it is in the “and/or”….
“All eligible residential and small-commercial electricity customers will be automatically enrolled in the 50% renewable supply product….”
Our Town fathers, encouraged no doubt by the representatives of Joule Community Power,
has have decided for us that the electricity we use should be 50% from ”renewable sources”. That “50% renewable supply” electricity will be sold to us at a rate 14% higher than “standard supply” electricity. Still, all-in-all, because of the advantages of the buying power of aggregated supply agreements, that higher cost for “50% renewable” is, bless their souls, 6% cheaper than what we paid to our local utility last year (on average).
The New York State law that authorized CCAs to operate in the state requires the Town to inform us of the decision they have made on our behalf, and give us citizens the chance to “opt-out” of the program.
If one is very clever, and has access to the internet, and an understanding of the program (gained through an extra half hour of research), then as a residential customer it is possible to “opt-out” into the “CCA Standard Supply” option – which is , as you have guessed, 14% cheaper than the “50% Renewable Supply” which is the default into which we are “automatically enrolled” by our caring Town officials.
But overall, with the total of an hour of effort, this electricity customer (your ever-striving author) has opted-out by opting-in to the “Standard Supply” option, thus achieving an overall rate reduction of 21%.
My utilities average rate for 2022: $ 0.1195/kWh
My rate with CCA Standard Supply: $0.0987/kWh
My local CCA’s 50% Renewable rate: $0.1124/kWh
My local CCA’s 100% Renewable rate: $0.1240/kWh
Thus, my local rate will be less than 10 cents per kilowatt/hour – more precisely $0.09870/kWh.
And that, my friends, is a good thing. Compare to this chart of average rates in the U.S.:
Here we see the “national average” is running above $ 0.16/kWh.
My new rate, with the power aggregation scheme, will be reduced to the 2001 national average rates. [A savings of 22 years – sort of.]
Note that the reduction is gained through aggregate purchasing power, not through renewable energy. The 100% renewable rate is higher than the utilities original rates. Customers taking no action –which are automatically opted-in to the 50% renewable scheme — will have a new rate very slightly below their old rate, lower by $0.0071/kWh, getting the advantage of the lower aggregated rate for standard supply electricity for the other 50%.
How does this work? Can we follow the money? Joule Community Power is a division of Joule Assets, Inc.. Joule Assets uses its link to Joule Community Power to provide instant customers for federal-government subsidized Solar Farm Developers. In addition, the price breaks, for them, come from “savings in the form of solar bill credits derived from NY State incentives for renewable generation.”
Your money (tax dollars – both State and Federal) is being spent to provide you, as an electricity customer in NY State, with conveniently more-expensive renewable-supplied electricity. Without this opportunity to pay twice (first in your tax dollars and secondly in increased electricity rates) you could be paying over 20% less.
Aggregated energy buying is a good thing – it saves customers money. Mixing that good idea with the “go green” mania is a silly thing, and increases electricity costs to the customer.
# # # # #
And that’s the latest energy news from Upstate New York, USA.
In this area, perfectly good farm land is being turned into solar farms taking advantage of Federal subsidies and State incentives.
As you can see, it is driving our electricity prices UP – not down as usually claimed by advocates and the main stream media.
Aggregated energy buying though presents the possibility of lowering electricity rates if it can be de-coupled from government mandated renewables policy.
Thanks for reading.
# # # # #
“Our Town fathers, encouraged no doubt by the representatives of Joule Community Power, has decided for us that the electricity we use should be 50% from ”renewable sources”. “
But your numbers list choices, standard, 50%, 100%, and you chose standard. Doesn’t sound so decided. Maybe you mean the default is 50%?
Sigh! Your default Nickpicking to distract from the point, as we see literally every day.
No, Nick, a CHOICE with a default would require that the customer confirm the suggested default selection through some positive action—click Confirm on a web page maybe. There is no action required.
The town informs you, in a communication that they know and hope that you won’t be bothered to read in any detail, that you are
S A V I N G M O N E Y ! !
Then (tiny text) if you’re a monster you can opt out of saving the planet. But they make that crime against Gaia so “easy” that it only took Kip an hour.
It’s a “choice” that they have made for you and hope you’re too busy to undo and make for yourself through a difficult process. It just conveniently aligns with their political goals and financial interests. And it’s a process that they would never have made available at all, except that it was legally required. So they made it as easy as possible to be apathetic and as difficult as possible to opt out.
Nickwit Nickpicks as his default.
May I suggest the soubriquet of
Nick ‘the nitpicker’ Stokes?
“you won’t be bothered to read in any detail”
It’s a new scheme. People talk about stuff. Newspapers write about it. Anyone who is seriously interested in their electricity will find out the info that Kip presents, and which buttons you need to press to make your preference happen.
Nick ==> and that is one of the points of my commentary. The general public is not “Anyone who is seriously interested in their electricity will find out the info”…they will be saddled with the choice made by the Town officials — unable to discover the choices they could be making. The mail-in form supplied (with accompanying pre-paid envelope) does not offer the choice of supply, only in or out.
FFS Nick! I don’t think you are a stupid man, but why do you write this nonsense?
Green energy generation into the grid has been thoroughly disgraced in Britain and Germany this winter, where industries are leaving due to high energy costs and most people could not afford to heat their homes.
Old people die in cold rooms.
We predicted this energy shortfall in 2002 and in detail to the year in 2013 in an Open Letter to Baroness Verma, British Undersecretary of Climate and Energy.
And Nick, who are the most likely to NOT do the research necessary to discover the hidden best price. Of course it is the less educated, less knowledgeable, that is the POOR.
Why do you want to poor to be hoodwinked by their betters on the city council? Why do you H@TE the poor so much Nick?
Nick ==> Yes, all customers (residential and small commercial) are automatically enrolled in the 50% renewable plan. They supply a mail-in that only offers the chance to opt-out entirely. It takes some research to discover that to change CCA plans, such as to the Standard Supply, customers must go to the offered website and fill out a several page form, a form marked Opt-Out –one must opt-out of the default plan (decided by our Town Fathers) and opt-in (on the opt-out page) to the Standard supply option.
A town council of some kind? With a leader by some official name? It’s every bit as bad here.
“Bristol council, [the Telegraph] reports this week, is planning to bring in a massive LTN that will virtually ‘take cars off the road’. As part of a £6million initiative called the East Bristol Liveable Neighbourhood, the council will severely clamp down on traffic on several key roads in the city’s east. Bollards and planters will be used to block cars from these roads. There’ll also be ‘the installation of gates’ that private cars won’t be able to go through, only buses. Get back on the bus, plebs.
Hackney, also in London, wants to make three-quarters of its roads into LTNs.
The London borough of Southwark has raised the price of parking permits by an eye-watering 400 per cent in order to reduce car numbers.
Oxford county council is carrying out a trial this year that will block private cars from accessing six major roads in the city centre. Another big idea in urban planning is the ‘15-minute city’, which basically means restructuring city life so that people can access everything they need on Shanks’s pony rather than in filthy cars.
The adjective ‘liveable’ is always thrown around by the eco-elites who hate cars.
I can remember when driving was actually a fun thing to do.
Fun? Ah, yes, the employment of time in a profitless and non-practical way.” – Kryten 2X4B 523P
The mention of a pony made me think of something that would be hilarious if it were to happen in these traffic restricted cities and towns – imagine if people started going back to using horses for transportation and manure suddenly became a big problem again! They’d go from getting rid of perceived pollution to actual filth in the streets. That would be a real hoot!
But actually, what will probably happen is those restricted areas will simply whither down to shadows of what they used to be. If people can’t access (or find it too difficult to access) those parts of town, they will simply stop coming. Businesses will close and those areas will become blighted. And those businesses in those parts may simply move outside of the town limits, increasing suburban sprawl….
In my area of the cosmos (central Washington State) horses are banned from many communities except for parades and other special events. For parades, a number of “pooper-scoopers” follow and clean the fresh fertilizer from the street surface.
This has been done in the UK for several years; UK local authorities at County level have “bought” into a Community energy project where the “organiser” (iChoosr)emails all Council Tax payers to sign up and they will auction the supply from suppliers – only “green” suppliers. Problem is the selected supplier for my local area selected by this business acting as agent when I last looked was Soenergy, “100%” green, until you discover that their suppliers use REGOs …….spectacular own goal, did not sign up, was too expensive anyway.
iChoosr is a UK small business, exempted from filing full accounts and owned by two Dutch resident individuals, via a Netherlands resident company….as at 2021; no audit required, no information how or who provides their income….very open and transparent….. not. Says a lot about the acumen of our Local Authority employees who have been taken in by this venture.
What’s a REGO?
AGW ==> “The Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) scheme provides transparency to consumers about the proportion of electricity that suppliers source from renewable electricity. This scheme provides certificates called REGOs which demonstrate electricity has been generated from renewable sources.” (see here)
“In this area, perfectly good farm land is being turned into solar farms taking advantage of Federal subsidies and State incentives. ”
It’s good economics for the farmers- but I bet most really don’t like seeing their land converted to an industrial use. Is it mostly fields or also forest land? Here in Woke-achusetts I see fields and forests being sacrificed to the Green God.
Joseph ==> Fields…farmed in our area since the 1700s. This is not Arizona,,,but Upstate NY,,,
I see Solar Panels of green
Wind Turbines too
I see their gloom
For me and you
And I think to myself
What a horrible world
I see forests are gone
And fields of blight
The often windless day
The powerless night
And I think to myself
What a horrible world
Thank you for this post, Kip.
“Aggregated energy buying is a good thing – it saves customers money. Mixing that good idea with the “go green” mania is a silly thing, and increases electricity costs to the customer.”
Here in Central NY, I am a NYSEG customer. The utility company itself has the inherent advantage to be the most cost-efficient supply aggregator for the benefit of its customers, if left to its own methods and sources. But the New York “value stack” pricing scheme for solar (and wind) includes a fixed $0.031per kWh premium called the “environmental value.” It is a scam, diverting guaranteed revenue to the “renewable” developers while obscuring what happens to the overall cost for ratepayers. The utility must take the solar farms’ unreliable output and process the participating customer credit, which means we all must pay.
The community aggregation program you are describing is just another way that ratepayers are being misled to believe that there will be “savings.”
And yes, “In this area, perfectly good farm land is being turned into solar farms taking advantage of Federal subsidies and State incentives.”
The worst thing is that while we have to watch this disaster unfold and the inherent destruction of once useful farmland and beautiful vistas it will probably be several decades before the the whole mess is recycled as an enormous mistake. Unfortunately a lot of us will not be alive to see that happen.
David and Kip: I came here to say much the same thing. Surely your town’s previous supplier already achieved all the savings possible by aggregating demand. Little or no additional money there I suspect no matter what is claimed. Maybe some actual savings if the supplier was for profit and paid its execs and investors outrageous salaries, dividends, and benefits. (Isn’t the state Public Utilities Commission supposed to keep that sort of thing within reasonable limits?). And maybe there actually are a few real money saving efficiencies in this aggregation scheme somewhere although I can’t see where,
My guess would be that most or all of the purported “savings” are either imaginary or are coming from someplace “they” would prefer not to discuss. e,g, Taxes, cost shifting, raiding funds intended for something else, etc, etc, etc,
In my NJ town, we had the option to opt in to ‘green power supply’ with no rate change mentioned. I did not opt in because I welcome any chance of warmer winters the extra CO2 might provide. I also do not want to encourage building more of these useless solar farms that are springing up all over the beautiful west NJ country side and the horrible wind farms being built off our lovely Jersey shore.
Bob B. ==> Previously we have had several offers to shift our personal supply to various renewable suppliers….but looks like the CCA has taken precedent.
Just pay A LOT MORE for wind and solar power.. and it won’t work – be prepared for frequent power outages. Green Energy generation is a charade.
“The core policies of the NDP/Liberal Party and their fascist fellow-travelers are the two Great Frauds of our age – the so-called Climate and Covid “emergencies” are false crises that have no basis in scientific fact.”
For my American friends, read “Democratic Party” and multiply your Covid-19-vaxx-caused deaths by ~11 = 1.1 million American vaxx-deaths-to end 2022, now greater than all your war deaths back to 1776!
Regrets, my American friends, I grieve for our countries and our needless losses of good people who believed our corrupt governments.
Allan MacRae in Calgary
OPEN LETTER #2 TO RACHEL NOTLEY, ALBERTA NDP LEADER– Shame on you Rachel
The Hon. Brian Peckford, former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador and the last living signer of Canada’s Charter or Rights and Freedoms, re-posted my comment on his website.
ALLAN MACRAE MAY 11, 2023
Thank you Brian Peckford, much appreciated.
ALLAN MACRAE ON ‘HOW LIARS WRECK A COUNTRY’
May 11, 2023 / BrianPeckford
How Liars Wreck a Country
Excellent Brian – thank you!
“My observation Rachel is that the left lies about everything”
Here is the latest Chapter of my free book.
COVID & CLIMATE CHRONICLES – THE BIG CULL
OPEN LETTER #2 TO RACHEL NOTLEY, ALBERTA NDP LEADER
– Shame on you Rachel
The Liberals and NDP caused the deaths of 115,000 Canadians to 1May2023, increasing to 145,000 by end 2023, due to harmful Covid-19 Lockdown and Vaccine policies – vs 105,000 Canadian deaths in WW1&2
The core policies of the NDP/Liberal Party and their fascist fellow-travelers are the two Great Frauds of our age – the so-called Climate and Covid “emergencies” are false crises that have no basis in scientific fact. These two great global scams were concocted by scoundrels and embraced by imbeciles:
“Wolves stampeding the Sheep for political and financial gain”.
“Rode and Fischbeck (2021), professors of Social & Decision Sciences and Engineering & Public Policy, collected 79 predictions of climate-caused apocalypse going back to the first Earth Day in 1970. With the passage of time, many of these forecasts have since expired; the dates have come and gone uneventfully. In fact, 48 (61%) of the predictions have already expired as of the end of 2020.”
For 60:40 predictions, the odds of being that wrong are 1 in 13 quintillion; for 70:30 predictions, the odds are 1 in 13 septillion. It’s not just climate scientists being randomly mistaken – they knew they were not telling the truth.
My observation Rachel is that the left lies about everything – that is your only real skill – you believe that the end justifies the means. You want power for power’s sake, and you are utterly incompetent and destructive for Alberta. Your past disastrous rule of Alberta proved that point. If you really wanted to benefit Albertans Rachel, you would just resign and disappear.
Regards, Allan MacRae, B.A.Sc.(Eng.), M.Eng., Calgary
“generally larger than a village and smaller than a city”
VERY clear definition there /s
Tony ==> Precisely why I included a definition….we have a village by the same name as the town. The village is inside the town, but being in the town doesn’t mean you are in the village. We used to have two police departments, one for the village and one for the town. The two police stations were both physically in the village but the Town Police didn’t police the village, only the town outside the village…..
50 years we had that, they finally combined the two departments and save a lot of tax dollars.
Kip – that sounds rather convoluted!
I was mainly laughing at how “town” is defined by being between “city” and “village” without defining either of the other two (at least within that context). They’re defining Y by saying X > Y > Z but not providing a value for X or Z.
I would find it especially amusing if they define “city” as being “larger than a town” 🙂
Tony ==> Our nearest city is in a town too…but at least a town by with a different name than the city….
Does dropping “ship” off the end of Town really save that much time? A NY Town sounds like what most states call a township.
Thanks for the insightful article of the games played with taxpayer money through deceitful laws and regulations. “Green” has never been less costly.
Is your new under 10cents/kWhr including the distribution/transmission charges?
The national rate may be total charges, including generation and local operations.
nyeevknoit ==> My new rate does not include Gross Receipt Tax (whatever that is).
The FRED graph has a caveat: “Electricity prices are collected for the BLS [U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics] for the same 75 areas on a monthly basis by the Department of Energy using mail questionnaires. All fuel prices include applicable Federal, State, and local taxes; prices for natural gas and electricity also include fuel and purchased gas adjustments.”
The BLS says “It should be noted that utility bills priced for the CPI are for different consumption amounts and may also be calculated from different types of residential rate schedules. Therefore, the average prices per therm and per kilowatt hour are generally not suitable for use in place-to-place price comparisons.”
So, maybe not proper to compare my price with other places? I don’t know.
What are the rates where you live?
nyeevknoit ==> Ah, on the BLS site: “Utility and fuel average prices are published with federal, state, and local taxes included.”
Identical scam used in my county. People had a hard time trying to opt out and I ended up doing it twice, under two different systems, to succeed. The fact that there’s little renewable energy available in our neck of the woods and there’s no way to determine who’s using what should have been a red flag for everyone. The county council was bombarded with complaints about their decision to automatically include everyone as the default with opting out as the option. After six months the county is suing the “energy provider” (sic) to undo the mess they got themselves into.
Kip’s clarification gives me a chuckle – me being originally from western Pennsylvania where “boroughs” are a thing.
Those not from one of the original colonies of the USA might be entertained by looking at the map here:
A few very early settlements in the rest of the Nation are, likewise, as messed up as NY State and the others.
Okay, I get it.
Just for the sake of this article, we shall forget a very detailed article here a while ago, with a brilliant comment thread, where it was agreed by all (ok, maybe not Nick) that aggregation has led to a situation where the only investment in electricity generation has, like in the medical services, mostly been administrative. More and more bean counters, fewer and fewer engineers, no money for maintenance, and zero to none capital investment, because you have to compete against a hypothetical price from a station beyond the practical horison.
The world took a step back,when engineering concerns started being managed by business managers.
cilo ==> You have a link for the piece you re referring to? I might have missed it.
There is a lot of foolish investment in wind and solar — not much in anything else.
Quite a bit of effort to bring Small Modular Reactors to market.
A quick search at top right gives me this familiar-looking piece.
But I look closer, and no… I keep searching….
cilo ==> That last one is interesting but not about aggregation…..the CCA idea is smart in the power market — as not all electricity is equal in price by time, day, season, etc. Shopping the market for a group of end users gets better prices.
Kip, we’re looking with different eyes?
The articles I link do treat the same subject, albeit from a different perspective, vis á vis the generators themselves, and how the promise of one market and universal customers led to a lack of spare capacity, because building more capacity sounds insane when your competitor can sell ready-made.
…then one day, you wake up, half the generators are in “emergency maintenance” and the “market price” for electricity goes caviar.
Forgive my pessimism, I was taught engineers ALWAYS design with redundancy. We used to have redundancy running out our ears, with a taxpayer shortfall a fraction of the current net profit which, today, is called an insult to The Investor. So they stopped building new ones, and spent the maintenance money on dividends. After all, we got all those other power stations just standing around…unmaintained, of course…
Around here planned power failures have names, and grades, and evening news thumbnails, all because the money for maintenance was spent on empowerment of the bean counter class. We look at your rising complaints, and say:
“Market consolidation” is just Bolshevikian for “Absolute monopoly”.
Color ==> I see…you are talking about the sources of the electricity. CCA is some other kind of intermediary profiteering.
I understand not. We are talking about the wisdom of cross-selling capacity from different sources to one customer base situated not geographically, just an amorphous mass “out there”. This is what enables your whole system of opting in or out of various ‘packages’ at varying rates from varying sources, no?
Which, as I said, has lead to a situation where nobody is building (real) capacity anymore; the whole industry has devolved into a financial services scam. With heavy subsidies for the conmen who had the capital to buy in, or connections to be given an in to the business.
All apologies for the gullible who thought theyre getting in on saving Gaiya or whatnot…
Subsidies are a bad bad thing. If it weren’t for subsidies we wouldn’t be in this mess. It is legalized lying and cheating.
One thousand plusses!!!
Our local electricity supplier in Middle Georgia sent out a flier recently. The offering was for 8.5 cents/kwh using ‘normal energy’ or 34.5 cents/kwh for ‘green energy’. I wonder how many silly takers they had?
GreatGrey ==> Thanks for the groundtruth from the state of Georgia…I like your peaches.