ALBANY, N.Y. -- Under an historic agreement currently being worked out, the bulk of the major supermarket operators in the New York City area would buy power in aggregate for a flat rate.
Jim Rogers, president of the Food Industry Alliance of New York State here, said last week his group is currently negotiating a deal for a 24- to 42-month contract that would begin May 1.
"This is a massive undertaking," Rogers said. "We would not be going out and doing this unless there was a need."
Rogers' group represents 850 corporate food retailing clients in New York State.
However, for the aggregate energy purchase, the alliance is working on behalf of a large majority of the food retailers operating in New York City and Westchester County who are customers of Con Edison.
The effort was begun, Rogers said, to avoid the type of energy crisis that has plagued California-based supermarket operators, including rolling brownouts that periodically force some stores to close and send shoppers fleeing from others.
Rogers said the food alliance has the permission of Con Edison to proceed with the deal, which would lock in a flat-rate energy price over the term of the contract and provide the retailers with protection from possible skyrocketing rates in the event that severe power shortages occur this summer.
Rogers said the alliance is currently negotiating with a third-party wholesale supplier.
Rogers himself categorized the undertaking as historic, since the food alliance has never gotten involved in a project like this.
In fact, Rogers said, if all goes well with these negotiations, the food alliance is looking to do a similar deal involving food retailers in upstate New York.
While there is no guarantee that the New York City area won't be plagued by the type of shortages that have hit California, Rogers said most feel that it won't happen there.
Instead, Rogers said New York-area food retailers are more concerned about what rate they will be paying for energy. He said that forming an aggregate to purchase energy was one way for the retailers to protect themselves against being forced to pay exorbitant energy bills.
"The concern in New York now is not the supply as much as it is what's the cost going to be," Rogers explained.