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City moving on energy program

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A year or so from now, City of Rochester residents and small businesses could have easy access to 100 percent renewable energy at a price lower than their current rates.

Mayor Lovely Warren is preparing legislation stating the city's intent to pursue community choice aggregation. Under a CCA arrangement, which state law allows, the city and any other local governments it partners with would negotiate an energy-supply contract for their residents and businesses. Those utility customers then would then buy power from the chosen supplier.

If Council passes the mayor's legislation, then the city will begin soliciting bids for a program manager, which would help the city work through the technical aspects of the CCA process, says Anne Spaulding, manager of the city's Division of Environmental Quality. She estimates that process – which includes a review by state utilities regulators – could take a year.

Rochester People's Climate Coalition members have pushed for local governments to pursue a CCA, which they see as a direct way to both provide customers with renewable power and boost demand for carbon-free energy.

"We are thrilled that the city is planning to move forward with community choice aggregation," says Sue Hughes-Smith, a member of the climate coalition's leadership team.

In its Climate Action Plan, the city set a goal of cutting its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent of 2010 levels by 2030. Spaulding says the city also wants to hit the state's goal of an 80 percent reduction by 2050. CCA could be a crucial tool in those efforts because it would provide residents with climate-friendly power, she says.

The villages of Brockport, Scottsville, and Lima, as well as the Town of Geneva, have also passed CCA legislation. A few other Monroe County towns are reviewing the concept, says Hughes-Smith.

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