December 9, 2018

Newton, Mass Signs Historic Green Energy Contract

Newton, Mass has signed an historic contract for all of the city’s electricity customers that is 60 percent from local renewable sources such as solar and wind, significantly reducing Newton’s carbon footprint while also cutting the price customers pay.

This is an additional 46 percent above the state mandate for renewables.

Today’s decision makes Newton the community with the highest percentage of additional local renewable electricity of any municipal aggregation program in Massachusetts. Of the 40 cities and towns with municipal aggregation programs, the closest to Newton’s 60 percent is Brookline’s 39 percent.

Newton Power Choice is a “municipal aggregation” program allowing cities and towns to choose the electricity supplier for electricity customers within its borders, rather than having the local utility — Eversource, in the case of Newton — buy the electricity.

With Newton Power Choice, Eversource will continue to deliver the electricity; customers will continue to contact Eversource if their power goes out; and Eversource will continue to bill them. The difference: Newton now selects the supplier of the electricity.

“I am proud to announce Newton Power Choice, and proud that we are leading the way by choosing a higher percentage of renewables than any other community in Massachusetts. This is the most significant step we can take to reduce the carbon footprint of Newton,” Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said.

The program will go into effect in March 2019.

The 22-month contract was procured through a competitive bid process. The standard price per kilowatt hour for customers will be 11.34 cents. This compares to Eversource’s winter Basic Service rate (beginning Jan. 1, 2019) for residential customers of 13.70 cents per kilowatt hour.

When this program goes into effect in March 2019, a typical Newton electricity customer (who uses 710 kwh/month) will get a total of 60 percent renewable energy and will pay $165.89 per month. By contrast, that same customer would pay $182.37 when Eversource’s Basic Service rate goes up in January; a savings of $16.48. Further, that customer would receive only the state mandated 14 percent renewable energy content.

Eversource’s residential customer rate will change again in July 2019, so Newton Power Choice’s electricity customers are guaranteed to pay less only until then. While there is a guarantee of a stable price for 22 months, there is no guarantee of future savings beyond June 2019.

By state law, municipal aggregation programs must use an “opt-out model.” That means customers who take no action will be enrolled automatically in the Newton Power Choice standard program.

Newton electricity customers can opt out of the program entirely if they wish to remain on Eversource Basic Service.

They can also choose from two additional Newton Power Choice options: (1) They can opt up from the standard level to receive 100 percent renewable electricity for an additional $2.91 per month, or (2) they can opt down from the standard level to receive only the minimum amount of renewable electricity required by state law, thereby saving $3.34 per month, as compared to the standard level, while remaining a participant in Newton Power Choice.

Customers can leave Newton Power Choice without a fee at any time. At any time, they can also join the program, opt up to 100 percent, or opt down.

Residents currently on Eversource Basic Service will receive a notice explaining the program and providing pricing information. City officials will hold a series of meetings early in the new year to explain the program and answer questions.

About Municipal Aggregation
Approximately 140 cities and towns in Massachusetts have municipal aggregation programs. About 40 of these provide electricity from renewable energy sources above the amount mandated by state law.

Under a municipal aggregation program, the city or town can include a higher percentage of renewable energy from sources like solar and wind than a utility like Eversource is required by state law to provide. Under state law, utilities like Eversource and competitive suppliers are currently required to provide 13 percent of the electricity from renewable sources. This increases to 14 percent next year and by 2 percent every year thereafter.

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