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    Town of Rhinebeck mulls change to electricity plans


    January 28, 2022 - William J. Kemble

     

      RHINEBECK, N.Y.Town Board members are reviewing whether a community solar program would be a better fit for electricity customers than joining a consortium of municipalities that would require residents to take added steps to stay with Central Hudson as a power provider.

      The discussion took place during a video conference meeting Monday, with Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia noting that it seemed unfair in June to move forward with a plan that would have increased customer costs.

      "The reason why we soured on it was because … the last bid was so far above what Central Hudson was charging," she said.

      "We couldn't in good conscience enter into an agreement with them and commit our citizens to a higher rate," Spinzia said. "We had decided as a board that we would put our eggs into the Community Solar Law revision as a way of offering people renewable energy."

      Town officials in June were seeking to participate with a community choice aggregate program that would enter into a bulk buying agreement by leveraging the combined commitments from multiple municipalities.

      However, the non-renewable rate from Central Hudson at the time was just below 6 cents per kilowatt-hour while the renewable energy rate proposed through the aggregate program was 6.57 cents per kilowatt-hour.

      "It was a bit of a letdown the last time," Councilman Josh Pulver said.

      Officials added that part of the problem was the amount of time needed to go through a public information process before bids are sought for prices through a community aggregate program.

      "We've been through this before and it was elusive and a bit maddening," Spinzia said.

      Under the local law approved by the board last year, Rhinebeck could become the default electricity provider as long as residents have the option to either stay with Central Hudson or sign up with another program.

      Officials said there could be revisions to the community solar law that grants developers exemptions to provide electricity for customers that don't have the ability to build their own installations. Under the proposal, customers would sign up for the program instead of being forced to opt out if they want to stay with Central Hudson.

      "With this particular model it's an opt-in," Pulver said.

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