Bulk-buying program will lower energy bills, spokesman says

Chester. Community choice aggregation programs essentially lower bills from utilities like Orange & Rockland, a Good Energy representative told the Chester town board.

19 Aug 2019 | 04:19

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.

In other town news:
Senior citizen exercise park — Plans are moving forward for an exercise park for senior citizens, made possible by a $150,000 state grant secured by then-NYS Senator William Larkin three years ago. Michele Deshler of the Parks and Recreation Department is working on the design and equipment. The park will be located outside near the new senior/recreation center.
Water problems at Pewter Circle — Councilman Vincent Finizia said he's trying to discover the party responsible for continuing water problems at Pewter Circle, caused by a broken saddle connected to the water main. Specifications for the saddle, which was installed at least 20 years ago, call for stainless steel, but cast iron was used instead. Highway supervisor Anthony LaSpina turned up the cast-iron saddle on New Year's Day, when responding to a water main break. Finizia said he would find out who made the long-ago mistake and report his findings.
Performing arts center rental — Gemach Hatzolah, a Jewish charity based in Monroe, rented the Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center for three days — Aug. 14, 18, and 25 — to present a play titled "Alone in America." The rental agreement was approved during a special board meeting early in August.