Some Boston residents may fear that Community Choice Energy (CCE) would take away their options, that the City would force them to purchase renewable energy at higher costs. The truth is that CCE actually gives residents more choices, including the right to opt out completely. Before the implementation of any municipal electricity aggregation program, city officials give ample opportunity for residents to express their concerns. Mayor Walsh and all the city councilors welcome comments at any time.
The Town of Arlington will officially begin its CCE program (which they call Arlington Community Choice Aggregation) on August 1, 2017. According to Anne Wright, Coordinator of the Arlington, MA, Mothers Out Front (MOF) Community Team, the intention was to “keep the prices the same as or lower than the Eversource default, but to increase the amount of renewables.” The MOF Arlington Team worked with Sustainable Arlington to educate people about Arlington’s CCE plan. They found outreach leaders for each of the Town’s 21 precincts, and contacted Town Meeting members. In May of 2016, the Town Meeting voted in favor of the CCE plan. This gave the Town Manager and Board of Selectmen the go-ahead to find a supplier of renewable energy. However, there was a stipulation that if they couldn’t match Eversource’s default prices, the CCE plan would not be implemented.
During the campaign, some Arlington residents opposed CCE because they were afraid of increased energy costs. “We had to explain that City officials would not sign a contract if the cost exceeded Eversource’s, and that when they found a lower price, it would then be locked in, that it would not rise,” said Wright. MOF members passed out flyers and presented slide shows. “In every precinct, we had some kind of gathering to explain it”, said Wright. “We had some little question-and-answer sessions in neighborhoods, where Town Meeting members could speak directly with precinct members.” Wright even held a session in her own home. “We made sure the pricing was clear, and that anybody could opt out if they really wanted.”
For the time being, the Town of Arlington has been able to negotiate a CCE rate that is lower than the Eversource default rate. The CCE default rate for renewable electricity costs $0.10756, while the current Eversource rate costs $0.10759. While Eversource rates can fluctuate, the CCE rate for Arlington will remain the same for the next 20 months. Since Eversource’s rates traditionally are higher in winter than in summer, Arlington is assuming that its CCE will be lower than Eversource’s for the first 12 months of its contract term. The environmental impact of that year’s worth of additional 5% renewable electricity is about 1.5 megawatts of power that didn’t need to come from fossil fuels.
Boston can join other Massachusetts communities that are leading the way to move our electricity away from fossil fuels. Come over to our CCE website, and sign the petition if you agree.