K’hook village joins electric power co-op program

KINDERHOOK–The Village Board approved a resolution and passed a local law to join a CCA (Community Choice Aggregation) program at their January 8 meeting.

As part of the program, the village joins a group of cities, towns and villages in the Capital Region that will bid together on electricity suppliers. About 90,000 households will be in this group that works with MEGA (Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance) to find a price for an energy supplier that will remain stable over a two- or three-year contract.

MEGA will present bids to the village this spring and the board can either agree to participate or can opt-out at that time, depending on the price and energy options. The board can also decide to get the energy from 100% renewable sources or from a supplier who uses a “grid-mix,” with power from renewable and non-renewable sources.

According to the public notice announcing the local law, the program “is intended to explore the ability of residents and owners of property to increase buying power through a group purchase of electricity through a CCA.” The notice also says that the benefits of using the CCA program can include “saving money on electric bills, avoiding spikes in the price of electricity, combating energy telemarketers and door-to-door sales, and accessing renewable ‘green’ electricity.”

“I’m very excited. I think it’s great,” said Trustee Rich Phillips at the meeting. He stressed the importance of having the green energy option.

The resolution approves sending out letters to residents about the program on village stationery. Villagers can opt-out of the program at any point in the process and they can opt back in during the program.

“Every person in the village who gets electricity can opt-out,” Mayor Jim Dunham said at the meeting.

Trustee Bob Baumeister was concerned that all village residents would be in the program unless they opted out. “I think you should have an opt-in” option, he said.

MEGA is running a different CCA in the Southern Tier of the state and board members said they were told that about 20% of the residents in those municipalities have opted-out of the program.

A representative from MEGA held two information meetings in the village in November and December, and the board hosted a public hearing last month. There will be more outreach as the program moves forward, according to the resolution passed last week.

Also at the meeting, the board set a date for a public hearing on a proposed short-term rental law. Mr. Phillips said it was also known as the “Airbnb” law which would regulate rentals like the ones in the village offered on the Airbnb website.

“We’ve tried to keep it as simple as we can,” Mayor Dunham said of the proposed regulation. Village property owners who want to rent out their property on a short-term basis would have to have the property inspected by village Code Enforcement Office Peter Bujanow before receiving a permit. There would be a fee for the permit and a fee for the CEO’s inspection. And Mr. Dunham said that the owner or manager of the property must live within 20 miles of the property.

“There are a few in the village,” he said of short-term rentals. “They have not been a problem.”

“Safety is the primary concern,” said Mr. Bujanow, who was at the meeting. The public hearing on the proposed law will be February 12 before the start of the regular meeting at 7:15 p.m.

Also at the January 8 meeting:

• The board set a public hearing for a proposed law “amending the zoning law to add a portion of parcel 5 Broad Street from Residential Zone to the B1 Business District.” The law will move the B1 line about 25 feet further south making the lot between Broad Street Bagel and the property next door commercial. The public hearing for that change will be February 6 at 7 p.m. in Van Buren Hall on the second floor of Village Hall

• The board approved acquiring a new vehicle for the village Fire Department at a cost of about $50,000. The board will borrow $40,000 and use $10,000 from the budget

• Mayor Dunham announced that the board has received a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program state grant to share with the Village of Valatie. He said that Valatie has most of the waterfront but that the villages would work together on a plan. He also said that having this grant would make the village eligible for more state grant funds

• Village Economic Development Director Renee Shur reported on several projects in the village, including designs for upgrades to Van Buren Hall and grants for that project; lighting in the community parking lot by the post office and an easement the village needs from the owner of the post office building; and a revised walkway tour brochure that should be ready soon. She also said she attended a Planning Board meeting in Village of Valatie about a bike sales and rental shop opening in a building off Route 9 that previously housed the Val Kin Car Wash. The building is also along the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail, a state funded bike and walking trail that runs through the two villages.

The Village of Kinderhook Board has agreed to maintain the portion of the trail that is in the village and at the meeting the board accepted the donation of a zero-turn mower from the state to help with the maintenance

• At the end of the meeting Trustee Phillips told The Columbia Paper that he will not run for reelection again after 35 years on the board. Village elections are in March. The seats currently held by Mr. Phillips, Trustee Baumeister and Mayor Dunham are all up for election this year.

The next regular board meeting will be February 12 at 7:30 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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