Editorial: Opt out for now

Editorial: Opt out for now

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Earlier this year, the Town of Brookhaven took a gamble, hedging that the market rate of natural gas would climb.

That hedge proved unsuccessful, and town residents have paid the price ever since.

Brookhaven launched its Community Choice Aggregation program in May, partnering with Manhattan-based Good Energy for a fixed rate of $0.695 per therm on natural gas.

The logic was simple. Given the volatility of the international energy economy — with costs fluctuating to the vicissitudes of geopolitical unrest and natural disaster — the town agreed to lock its consumers into a fixed rate, shielded from the variability of the market.

At the time of the negotiation, that price seemed reasonable. In January, the default supply rate from National Grid was $0.792 per therm — 14% higher than the Good Energy rate. As part of the bargain, all Brookhaven National Grid consumers were automatically opted into the $0.695 per therm supply rate.

Unfortunately, every month since the CCA took effect, National Grid has offered a cheaper rate than Good Energy. That includes the month of September, as the rate is now $0.297 per therm. 

Simply put, far too many Brookhaven residents are paying more than they should for their natural gas supply. And despite the urgency of the moment, the Town Board and Good Energy have acted with unusual calm.

We hear so often from Brookhaven officials about the need for fiscal responsibility. Where is the fiscal responsibility for ratepayers? Why hasn’t the town had a more aggressive public outreach and education campaign?

The town’s CCA webpage — brookhavencommunityenergy.com — still considers the program a means to “provide annual savings and rate stability for participating residential and commercial consumers by fixing the gas supply of the natural gas rate.”

This messaging is possibly misleading unsuspecting residents to remain opted in. Messages like these can do a disservice to the hardworking residents of this town, who should not have to bear such unnecessary costs.

The Town Board should confront its constituents, explaining the faults in this CCA program and encouraging consumers to opt out immediately.

A day may come when the National Grid rate exceeds $0.695 per therm. When that happens, we will give the Town Board its due credit and encourage all residents to opt in again.

But that day has not arrived.

With skyrocketing costs everywhere, elected officials must do everything possible to safeguard their constituents from further financial strain. Now is not the time to save face but to lead.

To every Brookhaven natural gas consumer, please opt out of the CCA until further notice. And please watch the rates.

Visit www.brookhavencommunityenergy.com and follow the directions at the top of the page to opt out.


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