20 Mar City Favors Bulk Energy Buys
HORNELL — Hornell City officials hope that a proposal to save home and business owners a little money on their monthly electric bills add up.
The Common Council took a step towards endorsing a community energy aggregation proposal on Monday, unanimously approving a proposal allowing MEGA (Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance) to explore public interest.
Aggregation would allow residents to join with customers in other communities to make bulk purchases of energy, thereby saving money in theory.
City officials were first approached by MEGA representatives months ago, hosting a presentation during October’s Common Council meeting.
“They came to us because we already do business with them,” Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan said.
City Hall is already a part of an energy aggregate.
“We pay less than five cents a kilowatt,” Hogan said.
The agreement approved on Monday is only an exploratory contract. MEGA will now take steps to gauge community interest though an information process.
“This doesn’t commit us to anything. It just allows them to start the process of public information, public awareness and public meetings to explain the process,” Hogan explained.
The program also proved its worth in a Westchester County pilot program.
“It was a success, and people experienced savings on their electric bill,” Hogan told the council.
Other aggregate programs have historically yielded two to three percent savings, officials said.
“Even if it’s two or three percent, that’s better than what you have now,” Hogan reasoned.
A second aggregation company, working on a Rochester area group, also inquired with the city, but never followed through, according to the mayor.
“I invited them to come and share information with us, but they didn’t come,” the mayor said.
Hogan praised the attentiveness of Danielle McMullen, who made the presentation on behalf of MEGA. “I kind of dragged our feet on it a little bit to see if she could get anyone, and she kept us informed.”
Others have signed onto the exploratory agreement, including the City of Elmira. A pool of at least 50,000 customers is needed to create an aggregation.
“The more people you get, the more you’re going to save, but they won’t do it unless they can get 50,000 definitely, but it looks like they’re on their way to do it,” Hogan said.
If the city chooses to join the MEGA Community Choice Aggregation, everyone who isn’t already committed to a contract with an energy supplier will automatically be joined — with the ability to opt out.
“There is no down side to this,” Hogan said.
Currently, the aggregate has not proposed adding gas purchasing services, but may in the future.
The exploratory contract was reviewed by City Attorney Joe Pelych prior to Monday’s meeting.
A motion to approve was passed unanimously by the Common Council.