GLENS FALLS — The new sustainability committee has a full slate of projects it is pursuing, including looking into how Glens Falls could purchase energy for the entire city and pursuing more energy-efficient street lights.
At its first meeting last week, the committee discussed how the city could become a “community choice aggregator.”
Councilman Bill Collins, who is the chairman of the committee, explained that this idea grew out of the unsuccessful effort to explore a microgrid for the downtown area.
Collins said there are local energy companies, such as the Hadley-based Brookfield Renewable, which produces hydroelectricity.
“A huge amount of electricity is being produced right here on the Hudson River,” he said, adding that it is enough energy to power the city of Glens Falls.
“It could make sense that the city buys electricity produced right here at a much cheaper rate and passes those savings onto all the residents in the city,” he said.
Community member Jeff Flagg said deregulation in the power industry has opened up new opportunities. Under this idea, the Common Council would select an energy supplier on behalf of the entire city.
Collins said he spoke to a representative from Brookfield at an energy conference and that representative was very interested in exploring the idea.
Exactly how to set up the structure is something the city would have to decide. One idea is that the city itself becomes an energy company.
Another model is used by the city of Saratoga Springs, which gets its power from Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance. MEGA essentially acts as the middleman between the suppliers and the purchasers. The committee plans to reach out to Saratoga Springs officials.
The group also wants to meet in March with Johnson Controls, which would like to conduct a citywide energy audit and possibly enter into an energy performance contract.
Collins said the way those contracts work is the company completes the energy upgrades and the city pays for them out of a portion of the energy savings, which these companies guarantee.
The city would like to take a look at more energy-efficient streetlights.
Other initiatives are the completion of training for code enforcement officers and city officials on energy-efficient building construction.
The committee would also like to pursue being certified as a Climate Smart Community. Among the steps involved are creating a community task force on clean energy and an internal city “green team.”