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City moving forward with power program

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The City of Rochester will soon be looking for an administrator for a new program that could bring renewable power to households and businesses citywide.

Tuesday night, City Council unanimously approved legislation authorizing a citywide community choice aggregation program. Through the program, the city would solicit bids for an electricity supply contract for thousands of households and small businesses. Although the customers would then buy their power from that supplier through the contract, they'll still pay their energy bills through Rochester Gas and Electric.

By pooling the residential and business customer base, the city gains leverage to negotiate better electricity rates for those consumers. It'll also have the ability to line up an entirely renewable or carbon-free supply for them, which provides a direct way to slash city-wide greenhouse gas emissions linked to electricity consumption.

Now that Council has authorized community choice aggregation, city officials will seek out a program administrator using a request for proposals process. The administrator will handle public outreach and technical aspects of electricity supply procurement and will help city officials figure out the best way to tie in things such as energy efficiency programs and community solar projects, officials have said.

The Rochester People's Climate Coalition has advocated for local governments to establish community choice aggregation programs. Brighton, Irondequoit, and Pittsford town and village governments have authorized aggregation programs and they're working together to secure an all-renewable energy supply for around 50,000 customers. The Town of Geneva was the first community in the Finger Lakes to get an aggregation program up and running.

Several members of the coalition spoke in favor of the program prior to Council's vote; one gave a celebratory "woo" when the legislation passed.

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