A program available to local residents will lower their electric and gas bills through bulk-purchasing and aggregation, according to a presentation made before the Chester town board on Aug. 14.
Javier Barrios, managing partner of Good Energy, an energy consulting and brokerage firm, said the New York Conference of Mayors and the Association of Towns created the New York Municipal Energy Program to allow both municipalities and individual residents to join a bulk-buying group that will increase their purchasing power. Such community choice aggregation (CCA) programs essentially lower bills from utilities like Orange & Rockland (O&R), he said.
The handouts he shared with the board say CCA programs enable municipalities in states with deregulated, competitive energy markets to work with one another to aggregate electric and natural gas loads. Residents who participate would see no change in their utility bills other than a price reduction, he said.
"It's not about solar," said Barrios in response to a question.
Smart meters coming in September
In a related development, O&R will be installing smart meters throughout much of Chester in September, according to a letter from the utility read by Councilwoman Cindy Smith, who ran the meeting in the absence of Supervisor Robert Valentine.
O&R will give a smart meter presentation at the town board's Aug. 28 meeting.
Using the same radiofrequency (RF) waves as cell phones, smart meters allow utilities to read customers' meters throughout the day while cutting back significantly on human meter readers. Some local residents object to the new meters, saying they pose a risk to customers' health. In July, the town asked the New York State Public Service Commission to waive the monthly opt-out fee for customers who choose not to have smart meters installed in their homes.