The Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance (MEGA), a purchasing consortium of more than 270 municipalities across upstate New York, has found a way to get more money to its participants in return for using less electricity. MEGA's new Curtailment Services program provides revenue to customers that cut back or curtail electric usage when the grid is under stress.
"Counties that can lower their energy use during times when electricity is in great demand can generate new revenue," said Stephen J. Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), which endorses MEGA's energy supply and services for interested counties. "MEGA has been helping our local governments save tax dollars for years; now it will add to the revenue side of the county ledger."
MEGA President Ron Feldstein last week announced that EnergyConnect, Inc. (a division of Johnson Controls, Inc.) earned the contract for providing curtailment services to MEGA member local governments. EnergyConnect had responded to a competitive RFP issued by St. Lawrence County on behalf of MEGA members. The RFP and award resolution included a "piggybacking" provision that will allow all municipalities in the state to take advantage of the program.
"MEGA's programs have been a great benefit to our county for a number of years," said Joseph Lightfoot, Chair, St,. Lawrence County Board of Legislators. "MEGA's expertise and the group-buying approach, give us meaningful market power, and procurement support, both of which are of great benefit to our taxpayers."
Utilities and the New York Independent System Operator, which runs the grid, occasionally offer larger customers the option of cutting back usage to relieve congestion and stress in the electric grid. The economic value is shared with the customers, and consultants managing the customers' participation charge a fee for doing so.
"Demand-response programs have been around for years," said Feldstein, "but curtailment consultants have charged a wide range of fees, sometimes leaving customers with less than they deserve for the value they provide. Our competitive procurement showed that curtailment service providers can afford to trim their fee, leave more of the rebate with customers, and still provide the required services."
"We are pleased that MEGA has selected Johnson Controls as the ideal partner to assist its members manage energy costs via enhanced participation in demand response programs," said Terrill Laughton, Vice President and General Manager, Integrated Demand Resources, Johnson Controls. "Opportunities to participate in DR are expanding statewide through both NYISO and utility programs. We look forward to working collaboratively with MEGA members by leveraging our local presence and facility expertise to optimize the value of DR participation."
In the coming weeks, MEGA will distribute information to its customers, and ECI will follow through with initial contact and information gathering to determine eligibility. Municipalities interested in considering a DR program for their accounts should contact MEGA's consultants, EnergyNext, Inc. at 518-580-9244, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Under the MEGA program, Johnson Controls has set its fees for each utility area in the state, and they are lower (more generous to the municipal participant) than from the other proposals MEGA received.