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Brighton alleges fraud and deception undercut community energy plan

Kilowatt hour electric meters, power supply meters.
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Electric meters are seen in this stock image.

Corporate greed might have been at the center of a failed program meant to deliver low-cost renewable energy to residents and businesses in Brighton.

The allegation is set out in a lawsuit that the town filed this week in state Supreme Court.

When Brighton announced the end of the energy program this summer, officials said Source Power’s parent company, Icon Energy, had gone into default for unknown reasons.

The default also ended community energy plans in Canandaigua and the village of Victor.

Customers who had seen savings on their fixed-rate plans were tossed back to RG&E with its billing issues and rising energy prices.

Now the town claims that what happened with the energy service company wasn’t mismanagement, but rather calculated profiteering that set the company up for a financial windfall.

In the lawsuit, Brighton alleges that Icon never intended to make good on its contract, which was to have run from January 2021 at least through this month.

Company officials secured the long-term power agreements, called hedges, necessary to provide lower-cost power. But they did so betting that the cost of electricity would rise, according to the lawsuit. And when it did, the value of those hedges rose dramatically.

Now the company has sold, or is planning to sell or transfer, those hedges for its own financial benefit, the lawsuit claims.

Town Supervisor Bill Moehle says the focus here – and what matters most to Brighton residents – is the company defaulting on its contract.

The company walked away from its obligations for no good reason, he said, and he estimates the resulting damages for Brighton and its residents and businesses could be in the seven figures.

Throughout its dealing with Brighton, company officials largely bypassed a state process meant to ensure the power being supplied was from renewable sources, according to the lawsuit. Then last summer, they stopped providing any power at all.

Brighton is joined in the lawsuit by the program administrator. Both are seeking financial damages.

Source Power did not respond to a request for comment.

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Brian Sharp is WXXI's business and development reporter. He has been covering Rochester since 2005, working most of that time as an investigative reporter with the Democrat and Chronicle. His journalism career spans nearly three decades.