Switching to Competitive Supply and Green Power Purchasing

Switching to competitive energy

City of Cambridge Community Choice Electricity Aggregation

The City of Cambridge is developing the Cambridge Electricity Choice program to bring the benefits of renewable energy and electricity choice to its residents and businesses. The program will feature renewable energy in the power supply, support for renewable energy projects, and maximum consumer protections, all at a price at or below the average price of Basic Service power from the utility. The program is part of Cambridge’s efforts to promote environmental sustainability.

The Community Development Department of the City of Cambridge will hold a public hearing on June 29, 2016 at 5:30 p.m., at 344 Broadway, Second Floor conference Room, Cambridge, Massachusetts to receive comments on the City’s draft community choice electricity aggregation plan. The plan does not include any details about the type of electricity “product” the city will procure, the potential suppliers or the mechanism by which additional renewable energy will be procured. These details will be discussed at a public meeting at a later date.

Review the Draft Community Electricity Choice Aggregation Plan

Competitive Supply

It is possible to choose a competitive electricity supplier to deliver your electricity, but the terms and conditions of cancellation depend on the contract you sign with the competitive supplier. Eversource owns the power lines that delver electricity to your house so they remain your distribution company and continue to bill you. You will simply notice a different supplier (and supply price) on your bill.

Learn more about how competitive supply works on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts website here, and also see this informational document.

Risks of Competitive Supply

We advise residents to thoroughly educate themselves about a competitive supplier before signing a contract.

Many competitive suppliers claim to include renewable energy as part of their energy mix. However, these claims may not always be taken at face value. Often, competitive suppliers can offer a lower rate because they are producing electricity more cheaply, but using a dirtier fuel like coal, and then mixing it with inexpensive renewables like Midwest wind energy. Other suppliers promise renewable energy, but may deliver energy that you might not consider renewable, like biomass. Other suppliers provide renewable electricity through RECs (renewable energy certificates and there is some controversy about whether REC's actually increase the amount of renewables on the grid because, in some areas of the country, wind farms are inexpensive to build and many argue they would be built regardless of RECs. If you are interested in supporting renewable energy generation, see the Mass Energy FAQs.

Eversource has discontinued its green power program and we encourage Cambridge residents to switch to Mass Energy’s Renewable Energy Program.

Confirm that the renewable energy you are buying is in addition to the State of MA RPS mandated amount. Currently, the 2014 RPS Class I requirement is nine percent, and is set to increase by one percent each year. You can verify the type of renewables being sold by your supplier at the Green-e website and compare the fuel mix to Eversource’s

Read more about the risks of competitive supply in this article (or just read part one of the article, on understanding energy costs, here. Although the article is written for Melrose residents, much of it pertains to Cambridge residents.

As with all consumer products, you should read contracts carefully. Some rates are month-to-month variable, while other rates are fixed for 6 to 12 months. Often a fixed rate reverts to variable rate after six (6) months unless you sign a new fixed rate contract and companies do not have to notify you that the fixed rate term is ending.

The cheapest and most effective way to save money on your utility bills is to invest in energy efficiency, either on your own or using the Mass Save program. Learn more about how to improve your home’s energy efficiency at the Cambridge Energy Alliance website.

For More Information

For more information on competitive supply and green power purchasing, contact Meghan Shaw, mshaw@cambridgema.gov, 617/349-5323.