Sustainable Essex Alliance to enter second round of program

Gabel Associates Vice President Bob Chilton explains the energy aggregation program during a community meeting in Glen Ridge on Feb. 16.

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — The Sustainable Essex Alliance will enter the second round of the Sustainable Energy Aggregation program in April, offering an alternative power company from PSE&G to the seven towns that combine to make up the alliance: Glen Ridge, Glen Rock, Livingston, Maplewood, Montclair, South Orange and Verona. Livingston and Glen Rock were added to the SEA in November 2020. The third-party provider, Energy Harbor, will provide cheaper and greener energy to the SEA towns for 17 months.

Energy Harbor will be using 40-percent renewable energy, according to a presentation from the SEA’s energy consultant Gabel Associates at a meeting in Glen Ridge on Feb. 16.

“That’s close to double the amount that’s required in the state minimum, which is the amount that PSE&G has in its power supply, at 23 and a half percent,” Bob Chilton, a vice president at Gabel Associates, said at the meeting. “It’s about 5 percent in-state New Jersey solar and about 35 percent regional renewable energy. That’s from our regional power grid, primarily coming from wind power.”

According to Chilton, residents will save more than $20 per month on their energy bills. The exact amount has not yet been determined, as PSE&G hasn’t released its new prices for June yet. In addition to the standard program, residents have the option to choose 100-percent renewable energy for $5 to $6 more per month.

“If you were out in the market on your own looking for 100-percent renewable product, particularly from renewable energy sourced from the regional power grid, you’d likely have to pay substantially more than that price,” Chilton said.

Other advantages of the program include no fine print for customers, no automatic rollover on the contract and residents can opt out at any time they want without any fees. Chilton said the vast majority of towns he has consulted for that joined an energy aggregation program stayed in the program again after the first contract ended. In the first round, according to Chilton, Glen Ridge saved $192,000; Maplewood saved $380,000 and South Orange saved $348,000. Montclair and Verona saved $684,000 and $253,000, respectively.

In an update to residents on the town’s website in early February, Maplewood administrators said residents who do not opt out of the program by March 7 will be enrolled in Energy Harbor’s program.

“If you do not opt out, you will receive a notice from PSE&G in mid-March stating that Energy Harbor has enrolled your account for service,” the Maplewood update read. “Service with Energy Harbor will begin effective with your April 2021 meter read, and you will begin seeing Energy Harbor charges on your May PSE&G bill. If you do opt out, you will remain with PSE&G power supply.”

Maplewood held an information session about the energy aggregate on Feb. 24, after press time on Feb. 23.

In their own information session meeting on Feb. 18, South Orange officials also explained how the SEA works.

“We want to get a better rate for residents,” Trustee Walter Clarke said at the meeting about why South Orange is part of the SEA. “We want to get a higher percentage of renewable energy. Those are the two goals of the Sustainable Essex Alliance.”