Yonkers, NY Pulls a Green-Energy Fast One On Residents
By James Hanley

Tribune Archives, Finance, Governance, Op-Ed, Political Analysis, Westchester County, NY, Yonkers, NY 17 Comments

Congratulations, You’ve Won a Higher Electric Bill!

The Wall Street Journal | Opinion | Commentary 

Mike Spano, mayor of Yonkers, N.Y., testifies during a joint legislative budget hearing in Albany, N.Y., Feb. 11, 2019. PHOTO: HANS PENNINK/ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK, NY — January 31, 2022 – Ever get an offer in the mail that you felt was too good to be true? Residents of Yonkers, New York’s third-largest city, know just how you feel.

In early January, a letter arrived in Yonkers residents’ mailboxes from an outfit called Sustainable Westchester. It could easily have been mistaken for junk were it not for the city’s official seal in the lower right corner and a message in small print: “Please Do Not Discard. Official Notification.” Anyone who didn’t toss the letter in the recycling bin got the following message, framed as unambiguously great news: “The City is pleased to inform you that your household . . . will be automatically switched from the utility’s standard supply into the Westchester Power 100% Renewable supply on your first meter read date after 3/1/2022.”

Publishers Clearing House couldn’t have done better. The catch was buried deep in the fine print: Homeowners who don’t opt out will see an average increase of nearly 19% in the price of electricity, making it more expensive to keep the lights on.

This stealthy price hike—not to mention the sneaky packaging of the official notification—evidently comes with the endorsement of Mayor Mike Spano, a Democrat in his third term. If he thought his constituents would happily volunteer to pay more for electricity, he’d almost certainly have asked them to opt in to this green scheme. It’s likelier that he’s thinking of running for governor someday and looking for ways to demonstrate his environmentalist bona fides to progressive New York state Democrats.

During a decade in City Hall, Mr. Spano has championed green programs like the Green City Leadership Awards and LED streetlights. The latter program shows that being green sometimes pays well, as less-energy-intensive streetlighting saves the city around $1.8 million per year. But unlike the streetlights program, Yonkers residents won’t save with Westchester Power. Last year’s average price for electricity was 7.3 cents a kilowatt hour. Renewable energy from Westchester Power will cost 8.7 cents. Those pennies add up.

Mr. Spano has engineered a scheme to burnish his green credentials and make Yonkers residents pay for it. Using the opt-out approach, the city doesn’t have to bother with persuasion. It can simply gouge those who don’t carefully read every notice they receive from the government—an especially unfair approach to Yonkers’s poorest residents, who already pay electricity rates more than 30% above the state average and almost twice the national average. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate in Yonkers is nearly twice that in the rest of Westchester County. Adding insult to injury, the national economy is experiencing the worst inflation in 40 years.

Anyone who wants to pay more to go green should have that choice. In a properly functioning market, consumers express their preferences through the prices they pay. The opt-in approach places the decision squarely in the hands of the energy consumer. The sneaky opt-out technique ensures that some unwary customers will suffer sticker shock because they didn’t read a letter from the city government.

Mr. Hanley is senior policy analyst at the Empire Center.

Appeared in the January 31, 2022, print edition of The Wall Street Journal

Westchester Power and Community Choice Aggregation By Ron Matten


TribuneYonkers, NY Pulls a Green-Energy Fast One On Residents
By James Hanley

Comments 17

  1. Off topic, Hezi is there going to be a Homeless housing center at St.Denis School grounds ? Bait and switch ?

    Hezi’s Response:

    Absolutely rubbish. Whomever advised you of this make believe story is conning you. I have checked with multiple sources and guarantee this is not and was not in anyone’s plan ever. You have been duped by fake information. I am only responding to his because if you heard it, you are either trying to make an issue of something that is non-existent or you are the culprit behind this sham. People who espouse opinion should best underwrite their perspective with credible substantiation. Not one person can substantiate such b.s. This is an attempt to undermine a project for what purpose or intent is beyond me. It is not any interest to substantiate even a false rumor without people sho so espouse validating their summation, conclusion, or opinion without concrete evidence. Kindly, Hezi

    1. Conning and Duped. Just take a look at Fay Park in Southwest side; the Baseball fields destoyed 3 years ago. 30feet of C/D debris piles.

      Buckets of Hydrolic fluid dumped on site. Get an Uber taxi and look yourself and take your new writer Mr.Ron with you .

      Then let the blame game begin from one to the other and nothing will happen no one fired.

      Only the children’s baseball teams will continue to have to suffer with no fields again this Summer.

      This would never happen at the Parks on Lake ave or Central ave.

  2. This is kind of the same as getting letters from a private company trying to sell sewer and water line insurance with Mike Spanos name and official City of Yonkers seal on it..Is that legal???? What was the kickback on that???

  3. The real question is how much did it cost to install the LED lights? In Yonkers nothing is ever on the level, this proves it with the stealth notice. Just read that the new Hollywood on the Hudson will bring in $600 million, which means our taxes will be cut in half, right Mr. Spano???? I think not.

    Saw the on YT that the Yonkers Economic Development Corp is meeting this week to do more tax giveaways, ah!!! OIY (Only in Yonkers)

  4. Where can one go to get City Council agendas before the meetings. The “meetings and agendas” page doesn’t have any agendas posted for some time now. I emailed my councilman to find out but didn’t get a response. I also tried the meeting notices posted here at the Tribune, which look to be downloadable pdfs, but those links take me to a google document page, which doesn’t have the agenda. Thanks.

    1. On the front page of the Yonkers Tribune website, on the right hand side of the page, you will likely find an ad, possibly two, under which is a maroon colored stripe that designates the headline “LEGAL NOTICES”. These “LEGAL NOTICES” are Internet replications of official documents constructed by and underwritten by Yonkers Corporation Counsel in their entirety. Nothing is excluded from these official legal instruments / pronouncements. They define the subject matter to be discussed. Some include further information while others may simply give notice to meetings / gatherings that permit the reader to attend such stated meetings to which they can attend and thereby glean greater insight into the subjects discussed as well as the outcome, should it be defined at such a meeting(s) on the date noted or that may be postponed for another future date. I hope that helps. P.S. I don’t understand to what “Google document page” to which you refer. When you click onto the “Legal Notice(s)” they open up to the document pertinent to a specific agenda by an overseeing body and time. I hope that helps. Kindly, Hezi

      1. Yeah, when I click on the link to the agenda it doesn’t take me to an agenda, it takes me to a google sign in page. Tried it on two different computers and two different browsers, same result.

        1. It takes you to a sign in page where? Who is asking you to sign in. In the Yonkers Tribune, the only time you need to sign in is when you arrive at an article that is subscribers only. Once you are signed in as a subscriber, you are not asked to sign in again. There are some meetings that are noticed to which you may not be allowed entry. Which ones they are I don’t know. Whenever an agenda is noticed, upon clicking the link i had and could read the agenda. Please explain.Kindly, hezi

  5. Another shameful sham perpetuated on the residents of Yonkers! And City Council approved it, without our permission, just like they voted themselves all a 3rd term, against the will of the people.

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