13 towns join electricity aggregation program

A dozen Franklin County communities and the town of Huntington have joined together to develop municipal electricity programs with the goal of combating climate change and increasing renewable energy use in Massachusetts.

The 13 towns recently entered into a 41-month contract with municipal energy consultant Colonial Power Group to develop and manage the Community Choice Power Supply Program, and with Dynegy Energy Services to supply electricity, a Colonial Power Group press release states. The individual programs are scheduled to start in August.

The 13 participating communities are: Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Deerfield, Gill, Huntington, New Salem, Northfield, Shelburne, Sunderland, Warwick and Whately.

“Every community involved in this collaborative effort is deeply concerned about the rise in carbon emissions from generating electricity by burning fossil fuels, and is looking for a renewable energy solution that would not increase our already high cost of electricity,” Conway Selectboard member Bob Armstrong said in the release.

Specific programs have been developed for each community. Residents and small business owners participating in National Grid’s or Eversource’s basic service programs will be automatically enrolled in their town’s standard plan unless they choose to opt out by July 22.

According to the release, residents will experience no noticeable changes in their electricity service with the move to their new supplier. The only difference is that Dynegy will appear as the “supplier” on monthly bills. Each town’s current utility company, National Grid or Eversource, will continue to serve as the towns’ electric utility, handling delivery, service and billing.

By creating the Community Choice Power Supply Program, the 13 towns aim to displace fossil fuel generation and consumption, increase local control purchasing, help create regional jobs in the green energy field and become part of building capacity in New England renewable energy development.

“We all recognize that bold action is needed to reduce our carbon footprint and improve our environment,” said Warwick Town Coordinator David Young. “By working together, our communities are able to get more affordable electricity prices for residents, bring additional local renewable energy to Franklin County, and help support the Massachusetts green jobs sector.”

The Warwick electricity program is estimated to result in a combined savings of $136,000 for Warwick ratepayers over the course of the contract. According to the Northfield town website, Northfield customers are estimated to save more than $238,500 over the 41-month period.

“Northfield residents are highly aware of the climate change crisis and look for ways to be part of the solution,” said Northfield Town Administrator Andrea Llamas. “The new electricity program grants us another way to take steps toward helping to reduce our dependence on non-renewable energy sources and decrease our carbon emissions, while also stabilizing electricity bills during a difficult economic period.”

For Northfield customers, the program has a standard residential rate of approximately $0.089 per kilowatt-hour from August to December of this year. The rate would change to approximately $0.094 per kilowatt-hour from January 2021 to January 2024.

However, because the utility company’s basic service rates change at least twice a year, the aggregation rates may not always be lower than the basic service rate, according to the release. The goal is to deliver savings over the course of the 41-month period against basic service, but savings cannot be guaranteed.

By comparison, Eversource’s basic service residential rate is currently about $0.09 per kilowatt-hour through Dec. 31, 2020. Budget plan or eligible low-income rate consumers will continue to receive those benefits from Eversource.

For more information regarding the 13 towns’ collaborative effort, or to opt out of the Community Choice Power Supply Program, residents may visit colonialpowergroup.com/our-communities and select their town’s name.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

Author: Going Green

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