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Doubling Down on Energy Choice

Christopher Walsh
East Hampton Star

Gordian Raacke, the executive director of the East Hampton advocacy organization Renewable Energy Long Island, has been appointed to Suffolk County’s Community Choice Aggregation Task Force. The task force was established earlier this year through a resolution sponsored by Legislator Bridget Fleming to examine the feasibility of utilizing community choice aggregation, or C.C.A., as an energy procurement strategy in the county in order to explore cost savings and an increased reliance on renewable energy sources.

In the community choice aggregation model, communities pool demand to negotiate a fixed rate, potentially lowering prices with private suppliers. Communities can also choose cleaner energy and develop distributed energy resources, including local renewable energy projects and shared renewables such as community solar, energy efficiency, microgrid products, and demand response, the latter defined as a voluntary rationing system in which a utility’s customers adjust their energy consumption during peak demand times to relieve stress on the electrical grid.

The task force is to meet four times and provide a report after a comprehensive study of the issues related to establishing C.C.A.s within the county’s municipalities. The task force will focus on the feasibility of doing so, evaluating the establishment process, and recommending action.

Joining Mr. Raacke on the task force are Ms. Fleming; Paul Pallas, Greenport’s village administrator; Frank Messina, a Town of Riverhead grant technician; Southampton Town Councilman John Bouvier; Lisa Broughton, deputy executive director of the Suffolk County Economic Development Corporation; Mike Bebon, deputy of operations for National Synchrotron Lightsource II at Brookhaven National Laboratory; Daniel Busi, the managing director of the U.S. Green Building Council of Long Island, and Tim McCarthy of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 25.

“Community choice aggregation can be a powerful tool for communities looking to take charge of their energy future, because it means that towns and villages — rather than the utility company — decide where our energy comes from,” Mr. Raacke said in an email on Monday. “I look forward to working with Legislator Fleming and members of the task force to evaluate and make recommendations for C.C.A. in Suffolk County.”

“Faced with the growing threat that changing climate poses to our economy and our way of life, we must look at alternative energy sources and consider the greener and perhaps less costly options,” Ms. Fleming said in a statement. “I am pleased that such an experienced and talented group of individuals will be researching these alternatives for our Suffolk County residents.”

Last month, the East Hampton Town Board voted to hold public hearings to consider a resolution that would enable the establishment of C.C.A. here. The board further agreed to explore, in those hearings, the opportunity for increasing its competitive buying power for electricity and natural gas by combining its efforts with the Town of Southampton, which had already adopted enabling legislation, and with other East End municipalities.

The unanimous vote was among several on measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The others pertained to battery energy storage systems and the crafting of an energy policy to guide the town toward meeting its goal of using 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020 and 100 percent equivalent renewable energy in electricity, transportation, and heating fuels by 2030.