Elmira Residents Could Soon Save Money On Their Electric Bills

For the large and widespread impact it could have, the crowd at Tuesday's public meeting was rather small.

"I thought that it would be packed in here," said Elmira business owner Doris Farmer.

But only four people showed up to hear about how they might soon be saving money on their electricity bills.

The city of Elmira is looking at implementing a bulk residential electricity purchasing program. The program allows the city to pool the electricity costs of households and small businesses. That could result in a lower, fixed rate for residents.

"That's a good thing, everybody's looking at saving some money along the way," said Elmira's Gene Fantauzzi.

So how exactly would it work? 

"There are two main portions of the bill," said Louise Gava, CCA project leader at MEGA.

The first is the delivery portion. The majority of people in Elmira have NYSEG delivering their electricty.

"So that's the physical wires, that's the substations, that's who fixes everything when there's an outage," said Gava.

That would stay the same. But the second portion? "That's the electric supply, that's what we're talking about changing," said Gava.

It makes up roughly half the bill. A bid will go out to find the most affordable supplier. Officials estimate residents will save $80 to $100 a year.

Chemung County and Elmira government offices already participate. Leaders have watched their electricity bills decrease.

"That's part of why, I'm sure the city thought 'well, we should do this, because it works for the city.' So why wouldn't we do the same thing for residents," said Gava.

If they do decide to move forward with the program, the City of Elmira would be a trailblazer of sorts. There are few examples of this being implemented in other cities in the state. In fact, the only one is Westchester County.

But residents at the meeting don't mind that it's a new program. They say the most appealing part to them is the fixed rate.

"This would help to create a better playing field for us," said Farmer.

"It'll just be a constant all year long," said Fantauzzi.

The process will still take time, but leaders are optimistic they'll be taking big steps in the coming months.

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