Lower-cost energy and free recreation for Cochecton

LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — Obtaining more affordable energy and protecting the rights of energy consumers topped a December 14 Cochecton Town Board meeting agenda that included discussion of free recreation facilities for young adults and seniors.

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) Project Leader Louise Gava (lgava@megaenergy.org) of Municipal Electric & Gas Alliance (MEGA, www.megaenergy.org) addressed the board immediately prior to the meeting. Saying that the not-for-profit organization MEGA, incorporated in 2001, is designed to secure lower-cost gas and electricity for New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) residential customers, Gava claimed that CCA (residents of a municipality choosing MEGA to represent their community as a collective bargaining unit) will make possible modest monthly savings for NYSEG customers.

There are two discrete charges on NYSEG monthly billing statements: delivery charges (for infrastructure) and supplier charges (fees charged to retailer NYSEG by wholesale energy companies producing gas and/or generating electricity). MEGA seeks savings from suppliers; its function is to find a default supplier to provide electricity at the lowest flat rate for a predetermined time period. Gava said a flat-rate charge is preferable because it insulates customers from rate spikes during peak demand months. In exchange for its services on behalf of a municipality, MEGA levies a small assessment fee offset by monthly customer savings.

Before a municipality can engage MEGA, it must adopt a local law authorizing CCA. But before that happens, MEGA must educate consumers about energy options and MEGA’s role in the optioning process. Thus far, CCA programs have been implemented in six states: Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey, Rhode Island and, since May 2016, a pilot program in Westchester County, NY that has saved 91,000 customers an average of $10 per month. For a CCA program to begin in this region (Sullivan, Delaware, Chenango and Otsego Counties), 10,000 residential customers must commit to it by March 31, 2017.

In other business, Supervisor Gary Maas read aloud a letter from the Office of New York State Consumer Services that recognizes those New Yorkers finding it difficult to manage energy costs, especially the elderly and those with fixed or low incomes. To make consumers aware of things they can do to reduce energy use and control energy bills this winter, six free publications (in English or Spanish) are available at local government offices: “Take the Chill Out of Your Winter Energy Bills,” “New York’s Natural Gas Outlook,” “Your Rights & Protections,” “Household Electricity Use & Energy Saving Tips,” “Utility Service Interruptions” and “Guide to Filing Complaints About Your Utility Service.” Questions can be directed to consumer.outreach@dps.ny.gov.

Seeking to provide a recreational outlet for young adults, the Cochecton Youth Commission, in conjunction with the Lake Huntington Ambulance Corps, plans to create a basketball court dedicated to Ethel Rohrmann Hulse at Solly Katzoff Memorial Park in Lake Huntington.

One-hour classes of gentle sun-style tai chi will be offered free to seniors twice a week for eight weeks at the town hall, beginning in spring 2017. Taught by certified instructor Bonnie Lewis, RN, the classes will benefit participants by increasing strength, balance and posture; improving mind, body and spirit; reducing stress and increasing relaxation; and decreasing the probability of falls by 70%. A minimum of 20 participants is required, limited to 25. If interested, contact Jerry Yavarkovsky (845/932-8360).

The Lake Huntington Fire Company’s annual New Year’s Day chicken barbeque will be served from 3 p.m. until sellout. For tickets, see any fireman.

The meeting recessed until 6:30 p.m. on December 28.

 

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