RFP is a Historic Win for Joule and an Opportunity for Poughkeepsie

City of Poughkeepsie Issues Groundbreaking RFP

The City of Poughkeepsie sees Community Choice Aggregation as an opportunity to make an impact by mitigating climate change. As Poughkeepsie City Council Member Sarah Salem said, “CCA is one of the most effective tools for municipalities to remove themselves from the dirty fuel mix.”

As of December 2018, more than 70 communities had voted to establish CCA (Community Choice Aggregation) programs, but—to date—Poughkeepsie has been the only municipality to craft a competitive RFP, a process that has been spearheaded by Sarah Salem and City Administrator Marc Nelson.  Although New York State communities have demonstrated a growing commitment to clean energy, passing the CCA legislation is only one step in a very involved process.  The City of Poughkeepsie set precedent as the first municipality to select a CCA administrator through an RFP. This is a historic win for Joule, and an impressive vote of confidence in the Program on behalf of the City of Poughkeepsie.

Poughkeepsie’s Process

After passing the initial legislation, Poughkeepsie formed a committee of staff members who would decide on a CCA administrator. From there, they went on to craft an RFP, which vetted respondents’ experience as CCA administrators, market and policy expertise, and implementation model. The committee deliberated, but they still had questions. CCA was still new to them, and it took time to understand the basic concepts.   

After sending additional questions out to the two qualified respondents, both sent back answers. Although this question-and-answer cycle took some time, the Poughkeepsie City Council had confidence in the process. They understood that every question needed to be listened to and answered, or else CCA may not move forward. Once the committee determined that Joule best fit their needs, the City Council worked hard to move forward with Joule. Ultimately, after intensive community engagement and deliberation, the Poughkeepsie committee confidently selected Joule as their CCA Program Administrator.

Why Joule?

The RFP process in Poughkeepsie is noteworthy because it paired thorough community deliberation with a rigorous RFP process that will ultimately expedite the deployment of CCA in Poughkeepsie. In December 2018, less than a year after passing CCA, Poughkeepsie decided to enter into an MOU with Joule.  The swift success of Poughkeepsie’s CCA rollout via Joule is due to robust outreach and strong leadership on both ends.

This outreach is led by Hudson Valley Energy, whose Program Director Jeff Domanski continues to present at events in Poughkeepsie and throughout the Hudson Valley.

“We were looking for an Administrator that could provide customer service,” Sarah Salem said, on why their committee chose Joule. “However good CCA looked at face value, we knew that people would still have concerns. We were sure that Hudson Valley Energy could handle the call volume, and Jeff even set up office hours to answer questions.”

Around the time that Poughkeepsie passed CCA, it also passed a legislation enabling a municipal ID program for undocumented residents. Other cities have since passed similar laws, using the Poughkeepsie legislation as a framework for their own programs.  It is Joule’s intention that other municipalities will similarly “piggyback” on Poughkeepsie’s approach for selecting a CCA administrator, in response to this groundbreaking RFP. 

“We feel encouraged,” said Salem. “CCA has come this far, and we’re not going to let the ball drop.”

Caroline Milne