ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — With the most recent Inflation Reduction Act that the Senate voted to pass last week, the US government is addressing the well-established environmental issue.
The legislation seeks to galvanize greener investments through tax credits as well as other financial incentives for customers to afford cleaner energy options, which can be more costly. It includes $9 billion in home energy rebate programs and 10 years of consumer tax credits to make homes energy efficient and run on clean energy.
The Community Choice Aggregation Program is a driving force behind the movement for sustainable use of energy in New York State. It applies bulk purchasing benefits to the industry of renewable electricity, motivating more people to be a part of the action to achieve greener investments.
The Greater Rochester area specifically relies on the Rochester Community Power Plan as a part of the CCA program to support the climate action goals and plans of the city.
The newest report from the Rochester Community Power Team shows that 67% of the residents and small businesses initially eligible are participating in Rochester Community Power. According to Susan Hughes-Smith, the co-founder of Roctricity, the opt-out program allows people to make a decision based on the eligibility letter that they receive. Residents who are qualified for the renewable energy program have the option to quit.
The report shows, in the eight-month period of September 2021 to March 2022, Rochester Community Power has helped to generate over 120 million kWh of 100% renewable electricity sourced in New York State for subscribers. In addition, the participants of the program made an aggregated effort in avoiding over 28,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions from what has been produced using RG&E’s default supply. It is equivalent to taking 6,179 cars off the road for 1 year.
While the competitive price stands as one big advantage of subscribing to renewable electricity under CCA, savings are not guaranteed.
“The goal was to produce a competitive rate, a rate that would be similar to the rates should RG&E be purchasing,” says Hughes-Smith. “When the program began last September, the ¢5.8 was very comparable to what someone with RG&E, slightly above what RG&E was supplying.”
According to the NY DPS Reported RG&E Monthly Supply Rates, the electricity supply rates varied from month to month from the lowest rate of ¢4.99/kWh in September 2021 to the highest rate of ¢8.14/kWh in June 2022. The percentage saving between RG&E and Rochester CCA fluctuated during the eight-month period from 29% to -16%.
“What has happened is we’ve come out of recession, or out of the pandemic, and businesses have come back and that has caused energy prices to rise with a lot of other factors as well. So overall, energy costs have risen, and we happen to have a fixed rate. And that means that the folks have saved if they have stayed in the program,” says Hughes-Smith.
As a part of the effort toward New York State’s climate goals and plans, Rochester’s participation in CCA has earned additional points for the community and access to grant funding from the state.
“It’s important that all of these programs, community choice aggregation programs, are programs of municipalities. So municipalities are trying to lead on climate actions, and this is just one tool for them,” says Hughes-Smith.
According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the city of Rochester has achieved 3,500 points so far in the accumulation of eight different High Impact actions, including the participation of the Community Choice Aggregation, achievement in Climate Smart Communities Certification, actions to replace street lights with more efficient LED technology.