MASS COMMUNITY ELECTRICITY AGGREGATION PROGRAM FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
VIDEO UPDATE: The video mentions the City/Town will make a choice for additional renewable energy. This has been changed so every individual account holder will be able to decide to participate in the greener option.
- What is Community Electricity Aggregation?
Community Electricity Aggregation is a program in Massachusetts that empowers cities and towns to create large buying groups of residential & business electricity accounts in order to seek bids for cheaper supply rates, essentially bulk-purchasing. The purpose of the Act was to ensure that the benefits of energy deregulation were passed onto residential customers and businesses by providing the ability to “aggregate” their accounts within their municipal boundaries in order to obtain competitive bids from Third Party Suppliers (“TPS”). Grouping residential accounts together creates economies of scale, enabling participating Municipalities to achieve greater savings for account holders as a whole.
- What are the objectives of Community Electricity Aggregation?
The objective of municipal aggregation is simply to lower the electricity bills through the formation of a buying group composed of the residents and businesses of one or more municipalities without interfering with the level of service provided by the utility (National Grid, Nstar or WMECo) that distributes the electricity supply.
- How does Community Electricity Aggregation work?
First, the Municipality must pass an article at Town Meeting or a Motion at City Council. The Municipality, will use Good Energy, L.P., to seek bids from TPS to obtain competitive electricity rates for participants. A resident will be able to Opt-Out of the program during a 30 day period at the onset of the program or leave the program at any point for no termination penalty.
- How does Community Electricity Aggregation impact my electricity bill?
The goal of Community Electricity Aggregation (CEA) is primarily savings and long term price stability. Though savings cannot be guaranteed because there in no visibility into future rates. Participants will see no change in their utility bill other than a change in price on energy supply. You will continue to receive a single bill, make one payment, and continue to receive the same quality of service from your respective utility.
- Will the single bill come from my local electric distribution company?
- When will the Community Electricity Aggregation go into effect?
The CEA group expects to have accounts enrolled in December/January.
- What do I need to do in order to participate?
If you are currently receiving your electricity supply from the utility basic service and do NOT participate in National Grid’s Green Up Program you do not need to do anything. You will automatically be enrolled in the program, assuming your community has voted to join the program.
- Do I have to participate in the Community Electricity Aggregation program if I don’t want to?
No. Residents & businesses can Opt-Out without penalty during a 30-day Opt-Out period. Opt-Out notices will be provided via USPS mail prior to the program commencing. Simply return the Opt-Out notice within 30 days and your account(s) will not be included. Participating account holders may leave the program at any time and without penalty.
- What part of my electricity bill will this program affect?
Your electricity bill has two cost components – delivery and supply. The aggregation program only changes the supply component of your bill. The delivery portion of your bill will not be affected.
- When will I begin seeing a change in my electricity bill?
The estimated enrollment will take place mid in December/January. Changes will be reflected on the next billing cycle after enrollment.
- Under the program, can I continue to participate in my utility’s budget billing/equal payment plan?
- Will the Community Electricity Aggregation program include both electricity and natural gas?
No. The program launch will focus exclusively on electricity.
- What if I choose to leave the program early?
Residents & businesses who are enrolled in the program may terminate their participation at any time without any early termination or exit fees.
- How will I be notified that my account(s) was successfully enrolled in the Community Electricity Aggregation program?
Each residential customer will receive a written notification after the bid informing them of the winning supplier price compared to the local utility, and the account holder’s right to Opt-Out. In addition, after the 30-day Opt-Out period has ended, each resident will receive a letter from their utility confirming enrollment and that supply service will soon be switched to the winning supplier.
- Can businesses participate in the program?
Yes, any account currently on basic service that is NOT enrolled in National Grid’s Green Up Program is eligible and will be automatically enrolled unless choosing to opt-out.
- I switched to a third party supplier and a few months later, my rate increased and I was paying much more than the utility rate. How do I know this won’t happen again by participating in this program?
The winning supplier rate will not change for the entire term.
- How do I know the Community Electricity Aggregation rate will always be below the utility rate?
The consultant has extensive knowledge of how utility tariff rates are determined, and as such, will structure a term with the goal of providing annual savings throughout the term of the contract.
- How are we sure that a competent and reputable supplier will be selected?
Only third party suppliers licensed by the state will be eligible to bid. In addition, an in-depth request for proposal is disseminated by the energy consultant to interested third party suppliers requiring them to provide their qualifications. Among other things, the request requires suppliers to demonstrate financial strength, experience, as well as customer service capabilities.
- Will my utility be eligible to bid?
No. By law, utilities are not permitted to bid. With regard to supply, the utility only provides default service. The utility will always be responsible for delivering your electricity.
- How long will the contract term be for?
The contract term will be between 12 and 36 months. The final term will be based on the most favorable price and will be selected by the municipality’s governing body.
- Do I have to sign a contract?
No. There is no contract to sign. The program is designed to be as easy as possible for participants. Accounts are automatically enrolled as long as they are currently receiving supply from the utility. Regular updates will be posted on the municipality’s website as the opt-out period approaches.
- If I Opt-Out, can I opt back in at a later date?
No, once you opt-out of the program you will not be able to re-enroll until the end of the current contract term.
- What if I have a photo-voltaic or solar panel system?
Having a solar system does not preclude you from participating. If an account holder is receiving any supply from the local utility, they are able to participate in the aggregation program.
- Who do I call if there is an outage or issues with my electricity bill?
All service and billing questions will continue to be directed to your local electric distribution company:
EVERSOURCE: (800) 592-2000
NATIONAL GRID: (800) 465-1212
- Will the utility take longer to restore my electricity if I am with a Third Party Supplier?
No. The delivery of your electricity is always the responsibility of the utility. As a result of energy deregulation in 1997 in Massachusetts, utilities are only able to collect revenue from delivering the power to your meter, not from the actual supply. This is why utilities in Massachusetts are indifferent to the supply portion of the bill. Simply put, your utility does not make any money from the electricity they supply your account(s), only the delivery of that electricity.
- Will I be charged a higher delivery rate?
Delivery rates do not change based on participation in a municipal aggregation program, or from any third party supplier. Utility delivery rates are regulated by the state and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.
- I am currently receiving offers from TPS promising lower electricity rates. What should I do?
Third party suppliers are currently very active within the Commonwealth. This is due to the recent significant increases in electricity rates for all utilities within Massachusetts. We strongly advise any household or business to read the complete contract fine print and have a clear understanding of any termination penalties along with rate details before agreeing to purchase electricity from a third party suppliers.
- Does my municipality profit from the program?
- What administrative functions will the municipality be performing related to this program?
The energy consultant will be responsible for managing the program and keeping the municipality appropriately informed.
- How can I get more information about the Community Electricity Aggregation program?
Various public meetings and information sessions will take place in your area. Please check for announcements from your municipality and local news outlets. You may also call and speak to a Good Energy representative at (844)MASSCEA (627-7232).
- What if the selected municipal aggregation supplier goes out of business or is bought?
Good Energy’s due diligence process requires bidding suppliers to meet strict qualification requirements. Among other things, the request requires suppliers to demonstrate financial strength, experience, as well as customer service capabilities. This process minimizes any chance of a supplier going out of business. If supplier is bought the purchasing entity will continue to provide supply service under the existing contract terms.
- Is there any change to my meter? If so, how/who reads the meter?
There are no changes to your current meter. Your local utility continues to read your meter.
- Is a deposit required?
- What happens at the end of the municipal aggregation supply contract term?
Good Energy will work with the group to obtain renewal pricing. Similarly to the original term, eligible customers will be given the opportunity to opt-out.
- Does the municipality pay any administrative fees?
- Why isn’t my community listed as a “participating community”?
This could be for several reasons: 1) Your community is served by a municipal power company and thus not eligible for municipal aggregation. 2) Your community is supported by another regional planning agency, and thus not included in the Community Electricity Aggregation Program. 3) Your municipal government officials have decided to not pursue Community Electricity aggregation at this time.
- Who is Good Energy, L.P.?
Good Energy, LP is a leading national energy management and consulting firm that has been implementing large and small Community Electricity Aggregation programs in various states across the country since 2008, and has partnered with your municipality to design and operate the CEA program. Good Energy is headquartered in New York City and is currently the retained municipal aggregation consultant for over 160 communities in various states.