April 15, 2020

Renewable Energy Aggregation Project Launched by Municipality with New Supplier

By Anne Levin

A virtual community meeting will be held on Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22 at 7 p.m., to discuss the energy aggregation project recently launched by the municipality. The town has contracted with Constellation NewEnergy to provide a supply of electricity that is cheaper and has more renewable energy than power supplied by PSE&G.

Information about the Princeton Community Renewable Energy (PCRE) was mailed to Princeton residents this week. “We’re really excited about this,” Mayor Liz Lempert said on Monday. “It means a much cleaner stream of energy.”

Constellation NewEnergy, in business for more than 20 years, already serves residential customers in New Jersey through similar energy aggregation programs. It was selected through a public procurement process as the qualified supplier with the lowest price.

Sustainable Princeton is a proponent of the project. “The program aligns with our goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with our energy sources, a top priority strategy of the Princeton Climate Action Plan,” the organization’s website reads.

The Climate Action Plan was approved by Princeton Council last July. The procurement process was begun in November, but the proposals that came back did not include any price reductions. Refreshed bids went out March 10, and the contract was awarded to Constellation NewEnergy just before the outbreak of COVID-19.

The program is projected to help enhance air quality in the region. There is no cost to the municipality to offer and maintain it. The program allows for all Princeton homes to receive a cost savings of 1 to 2 percent on their utility bills. and renewable energy content will be increased to 50 percent for all residents.

“This renewable volume is more than double the standard 24% provided by PSE&G,” reads Sustainable Princeton’s website. “The program also offers residents the option to increase to 100% renewable electricity for a slight premium, translating to roughly $4 per month. For residents that want the cost savings and 50% renewable plan, no action is required, as program participation is automatic for Princeton households. Only those that want to opt-up to 100% or opt-out of the program need to take action.”

“We’re really encouraging people to step up to the 100 percent if they are able to,” said Molly Jones, executive director of Sustainable Princeton. “The more residents who do, the more of an impact we can have on our greenhouse gas footprint.”

The program pricing will be in place for 18 months. Once it expires, the municipality will either seek a new supply bid or residential power supply will return to that provided by PSE&G.

For those who participate, a notification from PSE&G will be issued in May stating that the account is being enrolled with Constellation NewEnergy, effective with the June meter read. Those opting for the voluntary 100 percent option need to call the company to request it. Those who wish to opt out can do so by completing a reply card that is part of the mailing to residents, or by calling the company. Residents have 30 days to review the options. It is possible to opt out at any time during the program, at no charge.

PSE&G will continue to maintain the wires to homes, so participation in the program will not change energy delivery. If there is a power outage due to a fallen tree or weather event, PSE&G will still respond.

For a full description of the program, visit princetonnj.gov or sustainableprinceton.org. To participate in the virtual meeting on April 22, go to https://princeton.zoom.us/j/955951076. The webinar ID is: 955 951 076.