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Brookhaven considers plan to lower energy bills for residents

Brookhaven is considering joining a state program to

Brookhaven is considering joining a state program to help lower electricity and gas bills. Credit: Randee Daddona

Brookhaven is following in the footsteps of two Long Island towns seeking to lower electricity and gas costs for residents by entering into a state program that allows municipalities to buy power and gas at a discount from third-party suppliers.

Town officials have set a public hearing to create a Community Choice Aggregation, a state-approved energy procurement model that lets municipalities act as a power supply broker for its residents.

It would allow Brookhaven, which set the hearing for Oct. 3, to buy power at a lower rate than from Long Island Power Authority, whose wires and poles would continue to deliver the energy.

In the case of gas, National Grid pipes would still supply that commodity, but the town would purchase gas from a different contractor.

The energy program functions similarly to a bulk purchasing agreement in which Brookhaven would buy electricity for a large pool of residents and small commercial businesses.

The New York Public Service Commission started the CCA program in April 2016.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said the high cost of energy and gas on Long Island made it difficult for many families and businesses to keep up.

But it isn’t yet known if the program would allow Brookhaven to try to lower costs for both gas and electricity.

“We’re allowed to do gas, and we’re checking into the legality of electric,” Romaine said Wednesday. “In Westchester, they’re allowed to do both.”

The moves allow officials to take advantage of more competitive rates from energy suppliers that are participating in the program, according to town officials.

Romaine said rates in Westchester have been lowered as much as 20%.

Newsday reported in February that there were  $17 million in rate savings for Westchester residents, according to officials of the consortium known as Sustainable Westchester.

Romaine said residents and businesses wouldn’t be charged higher fees if supplier rates increased unless it was after the contract expired, at which point Brookhaven could search for a new supplier.

“Our [plan] is a way  of ensuring we get the best possible price for the consumer,” Romaine said. “This is an effort to drive down the cost of gas and electric.”

More than 50 municipalities in New York State have enacted legislation to begin the program, including Hempstead Town and Southampton Town.

If adopted, the town would designate a CCA administrator to perform community outreach and data research before requesting bids and eventually awarding a contract.

The program would also require approval from the state Public Service Commission and negotiations with LIPA on terms for the town.

Residents and business will automatically be enrolled in the program, but can opt out any time without penalty. 

A public information meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at Brookhaven Town Hall.

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