Last week the Marlborough Town Board approved a resolution to establish a “Community Choice Aggregation” [CCA] program with Sun & Energy, a Millbrook based energy provider that has been in business for a year. This program has the potential of lowering Marlborough’s overall energy costs while sparking “clean energy innovation and investment,” while improving customer choice and value and protecting the environment.” Marlborough is the second town in the Mid Hudson region that has stated their intention to try out the program. The more towns that agree to participate, the more leverage Sun & Energy can apply to lower energy costs for all participants.
The resolution was drafted after the town heard of the program from two principals of Sun & Energy, Joel Santisteban and Jason Lieberman. According to their website, the company works to lower commercial and residential energy bills within the territory presently served by Central Hudson.
“Through collective bargaining, members will receive competitive electricity rates for all homes, businesses and municipal buildings in their communities. The way energy is received and the way utility bills are paid does not change. The only difference is the source and price of that energy.”
In a subsequent interview, Lieberman said they negotiate for lower rates with Central Hudson on behalf of their members. He said Marlborough could see a five percent reduction in their overall energy bill within a year.
“I am saying that very conservatively,” Lieberman said, with Santisteban adding, “that would be the minimum end of the range.”
The two said savings also accrue by their purchasing from renewable energy facilities “in a way that allows us to distribute what are called credits. We are basically helping people offset their utility bill by getting green energy.”
Lieberman said Sun & Energy is paid at a rate of. .0008 cents per kilowatt hour used. He said working with smaller towns could net them from $600 to $1,000 per month depending on the size of the municipality and how much energy they use. For a city the size of Poughkeepsie their company might realize a profit of $3,000/month.
Lieberman said they are constantly contacting towns in the Mid Hudson region to gauge their interest.
“We call again, again and again until someone answers and we explain what we do,” Lieberman said. Santisteban pointed out that since they are a local company they can easily be reached.
The two stressed that their company is the only one that offers an opt-out provision.
“Every other CCA in the country, except maybe in California, is a lock-in and nobody else offers that continual ability to always opt-out but we are confident in the savings,” he said. Santisteban said if Sun & Energy consistently provides value “no one is leaving.”
Sun & Energy will also provide an annual report to the Town Board that will include the number of consumers they serve and the number who cancel during the year, the number of complaints they receive, the commodity prices paid, the value added services they provide and all administrative fees that are collected.
By Mark Reynolds