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Experience with Mass. Community Electricity Aggregation Program

Discussion in 'New England' started by David29, Oct 2, 2017.

  1. David29

    David29 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2015
    Messages:
    1,336
    Location:
    DEDHAM, MA
    My town (Dedham) is one of 23 cities and towns that participate in the Massachusetts Community Electricity Aggregation program, or Mass CEA. Some recent glitches in the billing for this program led me to look into it in more detail.

    In addition, an article in the October 2 Boston Globe described how the Boston City Council is wrestling with a proposal to join a similar program. So, I thought I would share what I learned.

    The basic idea is that a community can decide on behalf of its residents and businesses to buy its electric energy from a third party instead of from the local utility. In my case, Dedham chose to join the Program in place of using the default energy supply from Eversource. The utility (Eversource, national Grid, etc.) remains responsible for delivering the energy and billing.

    The program Dedham is in seems focused on cost savings. Other community programs could focus on increasing their use of green energy or on some combination.

    I used the Eversource web site and my own electric bills to compare the Mass CEA’s energy rates with the default Eversource rates so far in 2017. Eversource offers two energy rates – a fixed rate (which is currently $0.10759/kWh) and a variable rate (which has varied from about $.08 to about $0.12/kWh so far this year). The Mass. CEA rate has been $0.0969 all year. So, in most months, the Mass CE rate has been lower than both the Eversource fixed and variable rates. It exceeded the Eversource variable rate in April and May. Overall for the year so far, the average savings is about $0.008. It does not sound like much, but it can add up – We have saved at least $40 in the 9 billing periods so far this year for our condo and the car charger.

    The savings could be more or less with other utilities (National Grid or municipals) and could change next year. But for what it is worth, our town’s participation seems to have been an economically good choice. What I do not know is the relative environmental impact of the default suppliers versus the Program’s suppliers – the Program web site does not seem to address that.

    For more information, the Mass CEA FAQ page is here:

    Frequently Asked Questions | Mass CEA


    [Note to Admins: This might be considered off-topic, and if so, please fell free to move it. But it relates narrowly and specifically to Massachusetts, so I posted it in the New England forum. --DAB]
     
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  2. tga

    tga Supporting Member

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    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Those numbers are generation only, vs all-in numbers (ie, including transmission & distribution), correct? Looking at my Eversource NH bill, I'm paying $0.1166/kWh for generation, and $0.06929/kWh for delivery.

    Is the program opt-in, opt-out, or mandatory for customers in CEA communities? Just curious if customers who have different goals than their town's CEA have other options. For instance, Dedham is focused on cost savings - what if someone in Dedham is more interested in green power options?
     
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  3. David29

    David29 Supporting Member

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    DEDHAM, MA
    Good questions.
    First, yes, the numbers I was discussing were generation only, not delivery. Delivery charges would be in addition but they are determined by the utility that services the account, not by the aggregation program.

    Second, at least in Massachusetts, the program is opt-out in the sense that anyone can always change their generation supplier. Looking at the Mass CEA website, it looks as if the practice is to send a mailer with a postcard that can be returned if the customer wishes to opt-out either for the default energy supplier or for one of the alternative energy sources.

    As for the green element, something i had not realized when i wrote the post is that there is also a voluntary five (5) percent local renewable energy offer that can apparently be chosen. I do not know the details, but I understand that my town uses that option for 5% extra wind power over whatever is in the standard supply mix.
     
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  4. David29

    David29 Supporting Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    DEDHAM, MA
    To update folks on this -- As of January 1, the electricity supplier for the consortium is Public Power LLC, which won the three-year contract. the fixed rate for the entire three years will be 10.272 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). This compares favorably with the Eversource default rate, which is 12.888 cents per kWh for the fixed rate, and varies from 10.67 cents to 14.875 cents/kWh over the next 6 months.
    Customers also have the option to choose 100% "local renewable energy" for 2.4 cents/kWh additional.
    So, if you live in one of the 23 communities served by this consortium, you are getting a good deal, I think. If your community does not participate in this or some other bulk power purchasing consortium, you might want to speak with your local leaders about joining one.
    My condo saved $43 over 2017 compared to the Eversource variable rate, and $50 compared to the fixed rate, and I saved another $39 for the car charging service. Multiply that by that the thousands of households in the towm, and that is real savings!
     
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