Canton to inform community on energy aggregation

Jan. 23—CANTON — The village has begun 60 days of public outreach and education regarding Community Choice Aggregation.

There will be public meetings and presentations from Joule Energy, the company organizing the project, Village Trustee Klaus D. Proemm said at the Jan. 18 village board meeting.

"The basic timeline is the public education will go to March. An RFP (request for proposals) will go out in March for finding an energy source," Mr. Proemm said. "Then there will be pricing negotiation and figuring out the best possible deal for our energy. That goes to the end of April or early May. In June, a letter will go out to all village residents letting them know about the whole operation and their options."

Community Choice Aggregation allows participating local governments to procure energy supply services and distribute energy resources to eligible energy customers. These customers can opt out of the procurement while maintaining transmission and distribution services from the existing distribution utility.

The distribution utility and the energy supply service in Canton is National Grid. Should Canton seek energy supply elsewhere, the distribution utility will still be National Grid. Any customer opting out of the program will continue to get their energy supply from National Grid.

The aim is to start getting power from a renewable source in August, Mr. Proemm said.

Village trustee Anna M. Sorensen said the committee working on the project was concerned that the mandated regulatory outreach needed to be more robust and that residents need to be fully informed.

"We need to get this information out into the community and not just check a regulatory box," she said. "Because when people get that letter and are alerted to what we are doing, hopefully, we will have answered some questions ahead of time."

Ms. Sorensen said Joule has offered to make Zoom presentations to community groups.

"We brainstormed a list of groups for them to get in touch with," she said. "We were thinking specifically about populations likely to have a lot of questions."

They also discussed creating press releases, buying ads in local media and producing physical flyers to be posted around the village.

About a dozen communities are pursuing aggregation deals that are on the same timeline, Mr. Proemm said.

The village of Potsdam has approved a contract with Joule to administer its CCA program, and the Watertown City Council discussed CCA last week.

The board agreed to start its next meeting on Feb. 15 a half hour early, at 6 p.m., to allow Joule to make a presentation on the program.

The letter that will go out in June if the village decides to go with the program, which will start a 30-day opt-out period, Ms. Sorensen said. During that period, there will be more community outreach, she said.

In June last year, Joule sales and operations associate Alexia Lamb told trustees that typical contracts are for 24 months, and while electric rates can fluctuate during that time, rates for aggregation communities are locked in at a negotiated price.

Those prices are generally lower than regular utility rates, she said.

Not all energy customers will be included in the program. Aggregation will be limited to residential customers and small businesses. Large utility users will not be eligible.

Residential customers who are Home Energy Assistance Program recipients and those with blocks or freezes on their accounts will also be excluded.

She said that customers could opt-out and back in at any time.

There are no penalties or fees for either action, Ms. Lamb said.