Frequently Asked Questions
What is Community Choice Aggregation?
Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) is a program in New York that empowers eligible municipal entities such as villages, cities, and towns to create large buying groups of residential and small commercial accounts, in this case, for natural gas, in order to seek bids for cheaper supply rates, essentially bulk-purchasing. CCA programs got their start with the Community Choice Aggregation order passed by the New York State Public Service Commission on April 20, 2016. The purpose of the CCA Order was to ensure that the benefits of energy deregulation were passed onto residential customers and small businesses by providing the ability to “aggregate” their accounts within their municipal boundaries in order to obtain competitive bids from Energy Suppliers (ESCO). Grouping residential accounts together creates economies of scale, enabling participating governments to achieve greater savings for account holders as a whole, in contrast to what would normally have been achievable by the individual customer. More importantly, the CCA construct provides a substantial positive opportunity for meaningful and effective local and community engagement on critical energy issues and the development of initiative programs, products, and services that promote and advance the achievement of the state’s energy goals. CCA programs can educate, encourage, and empower communities and individuals to take control of their energy future through engagement with existing REV (Reforming the Energy Vision) and CEF (Clean Energy Fund) opportunities and development of new DER (distributed energy resources) and clean energy programs.
What are the benefits of Community Choice Aggregation?
The key benefit of CCA is the opportunity for residents to reduce costs on their natural gas bills. This is based on market conditions and the utility region in which one resides.
How does Community Choice Aggregation work?
First, the municipality must vote on and pass a local law authorizing a Community Choice Aggregation program. The municipality then seeks bids from ESCOs to obtain competitive natural gas supply rates for participants. A resident is able to opt out of the CCA program without penalty, in most cases, if they so choose.
What is “Basis”?
“Basis” is a financial term and is associated with the physical transportation of a commodity from a trading hub to another point. With natural gas, basis is the contractual cost of delivering your natural gas to your local utility company (National Grid) from the NYMEX natural gas trading point at Henry Hub, LA. This makes up about half of your supply cost on your natural gas bill on Long Island.
How does Community Choice Aggregation impact my natural gas bill?
The impact of Community Choice Aggregation is primarily to reduce supply costs and provide budget stability. Once enrolled, participating account holders will only see a change in their supply rate, not their delivery rate. The latter is regulated by the state and the utility and is not impacted as a result of participating in the Program.
What if I’ve already chosen an ESCO?
If a customer is already purchasing their natural gas from an ESCO, they are initially ineligible to take advantage of the Community Choice Aggregation rate. A resident can, however, opt into the CCA program and potentially receive a price reduction, though early termination of a contract with the existing ESCO may result in early termination fees. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of your existing ESCO contract.
When will the Community Choice Aggregation go into effect?
Each Community Choice Aggregation program will have its own timetable. Due to time requirements for task completion as specified by the Public Service Commission (PSC) order, several months are required to faithfully complete all stages in the CCA process.
What do I need to do in order to participate?
If you are currently being served by your local utility, you do not need to do anything. You will automatically be included in the Program unless you opt out (see next question).
Do I have to participate in the Community Choice Aggregation program if I don’t want to?
No, residents can opt out during a 30-day opt-out period. Opt-out notices will be provided via USPS mail prior to the Program commencing. Simply return the opt-out notice within 30 days and your account(s) will not be included. Participating account holders may leave the Program at any time and without penalty. There are various ways to opt out of the Program. One way is to mail the opt-out card back to the supplier. Another way is to call or email the supplier directly and request that you be opted out.
What part of my utility bill will this program affect?
Your natural gas bill has two cost components – delivery and supply. A CCA program only changes the supply component of your bill. In the final analysis, approximately 50% to 65% of your natural gas bill will be impacted. The delivery portion of your bill will not be affected.
When will I begin seeing a change in my supply cost on my natural gas bill?
Participants will receive their natural gas utility bills with newly negotiated, potentially lower rates beginning approximately 90 days after they receive the opt-out notice. Initial enrollment usually takes place 60 days after a municipality elects an ESCO and signs an energy agreement. Remember, once service actually begins under the Program, you won’t see any changes on your utility bill until the following month for the previous month’s service.
Under CCA, can I continue to participate in my utility’s budget billing/equal payment plan?
Yes, you can continue to participate in your utility’s budget billing/equal payment plan under CCA.
Will the Community Choice Aggregation program include both electricity and natural gas?
Yes, the order allows the aggregation of both electricity and natural gas. At this time, however, the program will only focus on natural gas.
What if I choose to leave the Program early?
Residents who are enrolled in the Program may terminate their participation at any time, in most cases, without early termination or exit fees.
How will I be notified that my account(s) was successfully enrolled in the Community Choice Aggregation program?
Each residential customer will receive written notification after the bid informing them of the winning supplier price, estimated savings as compared to the local utility, and the account holder’s right to opt out. In addition, after the 30-day opt-out period has ended, each resident will receive a letter from their utility confirming enrollment and that supply service will soon be switched to the winning supplier.
Can businesses participate in the program?
Yes, the CCA Framework order allows small businesses to participate, specifically SC1 residential service, SC2 non-residential service, and SC3 multiple dwelling service rate classes.
Will I have a fixed or variable rate?
The CCA framework allows for a fixed or variable rate for eligible consumers. Your natural gas commodity cost will continue to fluctuate just like your utility rates. But Lynbrook Community Energy secured a fixed price for the Basis & transport fees of the supply portion of your natural gas costs.
How are we sure that a competent and reputable supplier will be selected?
Only ESCOs who have met the requirements of the uniform business practice (UBP) and licensed by the NYS PSC, as well as having met the requirements of the CCA Administrator, Good Energy, are eligible to bid. In addition, an in-depth request for proposal is disseminated by Good Energy to interested ESCOs requiring them to provide their qualifications. Among other things, the request requires suppliers to demonstrate financial strength, experience, as well as customer service capabilities.
Will my utility be eligible to bid?
No, by law, utilities are not permitted to bid. With regard to supply, the utility only provides default service; they are not an ESCO. However, the utility will always be responsible for delivering your energy.
How long will the contract term be?
Contract terms range between 12 and 48 months for natural gas. The final term is based on the most favorable prices and is selected by the governing bodies for each participating municipality.
Do I have to sign a contract?
No, there is no contract to sign. The Program is designed to be as easy as possible for participants.
If I opt out, can I opt back in at a later date?
Yes, you can opt back into the Program at any time and you will see the change to your bill after one billing cycle. One billing cycle, or 30 days, is required for the supplier to process the account(s). One important caveat to keep in mind – if you opt out of the Program at any time, you will not receive an opt-out letter in the future, during the course of the relevant contract, to be given another opportunity to participate, i.e., you will not be automatically enrolled again during the course of the relevant contract. If you have opted out at any point during the Program, you must contact the supplier directly in order to re-enroll.
After the Program is up and running, who do I contact to opt in?
Once the program is underway, details about how to opt into the Program will be posted on this site, as well as the municipality’s website. In general, however, it will always be expedient to contact the selected supplier directly.
Who do I call if there is a supply issue or if I have concerns regarding my utility bill?
Service and billing questions should continue to be directed to your local utility. Utility contact information can be found on your bill. Questions regarding CCA ESCO billing portions can be answered by CCA customer service. In most cases, the utility will direct you to contact the ESCO for questions about ESCO charges.
Will the utility take longer to restore my natural gas if I am with an ESCO?
No, the delivery of your natural gas is always the responsibility of the utility. Your utility company, National Grid, is responsible for restoring the natural gas lines in the event of a service interruption. You may reach National Grid, 24 hours a day, by calling (800) 930-5003.
I am currently receiving offers from ESCOs promising lower natural gas supply rates, or, I am already in contract with an ESCO. What should I do?
Accounts receiving supply from an ESCO are initially excluded from the Program. Those account holders will not receive an opt-out notice. However, consumers who are currently in contract with an ESCO and want to terminate their contract early, or for those considering switching to an ESCO before a Community Choice Aggregation program is available, should review, at a minimum, the following language in the ESCO offer/contract:
- Contract length – many ESCOs require a minimum one year contract, while only offering a fixed price for the first six months. It is important to determine what happens to the offer rate at the end of the first six months. Some ESCOs do not define this in their offers.
- Depending on the contract term, a customer may be prevented from getting the aggregation rate until the contract ends.
- Early termination fees
- Pricing terms which take effect at the end of the agreed-upon rate (as mentioned above in #2 and/or at the end of the term), etc.
- One bill or two? Under the CCA program, participants will still receive only one monthly bill and make only one payment to their utility. Some ESCOs do not have this provision, meaning customers may receive their regular bill from their utility for delivery and a separate bill from the ESCO for supply.
Does my municipality earn a fee from the Program?
No, the municipality makes no fee.
What administrative functions will the municipality be performing related to this program?
The municipality will not have any administrative function other than to review and ensure that all accounts within municipal boundaries are given the opportunity to participate. The CCA Administrator will be responsible for managing the Program and keeping the municipality appropriately informed.
How can I get more information about the Community Choice Aggregation program?
Public meetings and information sessions did or will take place in your area or will be held virtually. Please check for announcements from your municipality and local news outlets. The municipal website may feature all materials related to the CCA program as they become available.
Who is Good Energy?
Good Energy, L.P. is a New York-based energy management and consulting firm that has been running large and small Community Choice Aggregation programs in various states across the country since 2012. The company has been in existence since 2000 and partners with municipalities to design and operate CCA programs. Good Energy is headquartered in New York City and is currently the retained CCA consultant for nearly 300 CCA communities across the country.