Boston Rolls Out Community Choice Electricity with More Renewables, Lower Cost

The City of Boston has released the long-awaited details of its Community Choice Electricity program (CCE). BCAN is thrilled to confirm that CCE offers all Boston electricity customers a painless but meaningful way to take action against climate change. The prices are competitive with Eversource’s: in fact, you can buy greener electricity and still save money. The customer notification and enrollment process has begun, and the program itself starts in February. Read on to find out more.

How Green is CCE? How Much Will It Cost?

CCE will offer a choice of three products (electricity plans). Standard, the default option, will have 10 percentage points more renewable content than the minimum percentage required by Massachusetts law. This minimum, called the Class I RPS, goes up two percentage points per year and will be 18% in 2021, so Standard will start at 28% green. Optional Green 100 will be 100% renewably sourced. Optional Basic will contain the state-required minimum–as does Eversource’s Basic Service product. 

Prices for the respective plans will be as follows:

ProductPercentage Points Class I Renewables Above RPSTotal Percentage Class I Renewables (2021)Price (cents/kWh)Effective Time Period (2021)
CCE Standard102811.409Feb.-Nov. 
CCE Optional Green 100N/A10014.764Feb.-Nov.
CCE Optional Basic01810.959Feb.-Nov.
Eversource Basic Service01811.882Jan.-June
Note: These prices are for the supplier portion of your bill–the price for the electricity itself, not for transmitting it to you. All Massachusetts customers pay additional delivery charges, and this will not change under CCE.

Here is what you would pay for electricity supply if your usage is a typical 600 kWh per month: 

ProductPercentage Points Class I Renewables Above RPSTotal Percentage Class I Renewables (2021)Monthly Supplier ChargesMore or (Less) than Eversource Basic
per Month
 
CCE Standard1028$68.45 ($2.84)
CCE Optional Green 100N/A100$88.58 $17.29 
CCE Optional Basic018$65.75 ($5.54)
Eversource Basic Service018$71.29 

So . . . with CCE Standard, you get electricity that is substantially greener than Eversource’s, for $2.84 less per month! If you can afford $17.29 more per month than you would have paid Eversource, you can opt up to 100% green and help fight climate change even more. Or, if every penny counts in your household, you can opt down to CCE Optional Basic and save $5.54 a month compared to Eversource, while still supporting a program that cuts carbon emissions citywide. We hope that you will choose the greenest CCE product that fits your budget. 

For full disclosure, we must explain that these prices are only for the time periods shown in the first table, and that prices for future periods cannot be guaranteed. During the life of the program, there may be times when Eversource’s rates are lower than CCE’s. The City, which makes no profit from CCE, aims to offer electricity that is as green as possible while keeping rates favorable over the long run. According to the Energy News Network, similar programs founded over the past few years in other Massachusetts cities and towns are saving their customers lots of money.

What Do I Have to Do?

If you are a Boston electricity customer and Eversource is your supplier, you will be receiving a detailed mailing from the City. Read it carefully. 

Meanwhile, here are the basics:

  • If Eversource is your supplier, you will automatically be enrolled in CCE. (You may opt out if you wish — though we’re not sure why you would.) Our previous blog post explains how to determine who your current supplier is. 
  • If you already have a supplier other than Eversource, you are not eligible for CCE while that contract is active. If you want to switch to CCE, go to the City’s “Protect Your Electric Account” page and scroll down to “How Can You Switch Your Electric Supplier?” to learn how to change without financial penalties.
  • New CCE enrollees are automatically signed up for the Standard product. To choose Optional Green 100 or Optional Basic instead, call the CCE supplier, Constellation, at (833) 930-3161.
  • If you join CCE, Eversource will still be your electric utility. They will still bill you and maintain the power lines, so customer service and system reliability will stay the same.

More Questions?

The City is hosting explanatory webinars starting December 14, with time for Q&A. Register here.

News Roundup: November

Campaign Update – City Signs CCE Electricity Contract!

The City of Boston has selected Constellation NewEnergy, Inc., as the electricity supplier for the Community Choice Electricity program (CCE). It has also announced that CCE will offer three “products” or electricity plans: Standard (the default, which customers will get unless they request otherwise), Optional Green 100, and Optional Basic. Under the contract signed with Constellation in late October, the price for each product will be constant for the first nine months of the program, February through November, 2021.

Optional Green 100 will offer 100% renewables. Optional Basic will contain Massachusetts’ legal minimum percentage of energy to come from renewable sources—18% in 2021. The content for Standard will be set near the end of this month. At that time, Eversource will have published its winter rates, allowing the City to calculate how much “green power” they can offer in the Standard option and still keep the price attractive. Stay tuned after Thanksgiving!

Climate News – The People Voted; Climate is the Priority

Both locally and nationally, voters have expressed climate change as one of the most important issues to them. In an NBC Exit Poll surveying early and Election Day voters nationwide, 68% of voters said they believe climate change to be a serious problem. And here in Massachusetts, our voters echoed this stance on prioritizing climate change. A ballot initiative appearing on ballots in Boston and other select towns asked voters if they believe our representatives should push forward legislation propelling Massachusetts to 100% renewable energy use within two decades. 88% of voters in Boston voted yes, and in all other towns with this ballot initiative, no less than 70% of voters selected yes.

It is clear that more and more people recognize the serious threat climate change poses. BCAN is encouraged to continue fighting for climate justice with the growing support and consensus around climate action!

What Can You Do?

Many City of Boston residents recently received a letter from Mayor Walsh’s Environment Department about competitive electricity suppliers. The letter’s purpose: “to make sure you know who is supplying your electricity, how to identify predatory electric companies, and how the City of Boston’s new Community Choice Electricity program can benefit you.”

We echo the importance of checking your bill to confirm whether or not your current supplier is listed as “Eversource Basic Service.” If you have Eversource Basic Service, it should look like this:

Your bill will always be from Eversource, but the supplier may be different.


If you signed up with a supplier other than Eversource Basic Service, you will not be automatically included when Boston begins enrollment for its Community Choice Electricity program next month. To learn how you might switch to Basic Service so you can participate in Community Choice Electricity, read this guide from the City.

King Tides and Rising Seas

BCAN continues to document the increasing frequency of flooding in Boston due to sea level rise. This is especially noticeable at “king tide” events, the next of which is upcoming on Sunday November 15th. And this is only just the beginning. These coastline maps demonstrate the city’s vulnerability over the next several decades. Move the arrows to observe how the city is impacted.

The map on the left-most side of the slide projects the high tides around the coastline of Boston in the 2030s, with 9 inches of sea level rise due to increasing global temperatures. The lighter blue represents flooding of sea water into city neighborhoods. The map on the right-most side of the slide depicts high tides in the 2070s, after a projected 36 inches of sea level rise, and additionally a middle-of-the-road scenario for flooding in our streets from stormwater, shown in aqua green. The purple, red, and bright green colors show the places in the city where our most vulnerable populations reside–low income residents, people of color, and the elderly.

These images give you just a peek into what has become our reality here in Boston. King tide events—AKA perigean spring tides—are not going away any time soon. We will see more and more of these flooding events in our city, and as the maps show, they will get worse and worse, especially for our most vulnerable and under-resourced communities. We must take bold and aggressive climate action now to protect our coastal neighborhoods and forestall the impact of climate change.

The City of Boston has a great tool for finding the projected flooding for any address in the City. To learn more about anticipated flooding in your neighborhood and at the places you like to visit, go to https://www.boston.gov/departments/environment/climate-ready-boston-map-explorer.

Protect the Results

BCAN’s campaign efforts usually do not include electoral issues and government appointments. However, the uncertainty of the presidential election warrants BCAN to use its influence to encourage a fair and democratic outcome. 

On October 30, 2020, BCAN submitted the following letter to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker addressing the November 3 election. In this letter, we have asked for the Governor to publicly affirm his commitment to defending the popular vote and to denounce efforts that are intended to undermine the results of this election. This includes prosecuting ballot tampering and voter intimidation, counting every vote before validating a candidate, and ensuring the state electors respect the outcome of the popular vote. 

We are asking that the Governor protect the results of the election, regardless of the outcome, and allow the will of our state’s majority to be reflected in the electoral college. These requests do not aid in the election of a particular party or candidate, but support the framework of our democracy. We also ask that Charlie Baker encourage other governors across the country to abide by these same principles.

Thank you to BCAN’s allies at Massachusetts Climate Action Network, Greater Boston Tenants Union, Climate Code Blue, 350 Mass for a Better Future, Mothers Out Front, Boston Clean Energy Coalition, and “e” inc. The Environmental Learning and Action Center for showing solidarity on this important issue. 

If you want to take individual action to help protect our democracy, you can tell Charlie Baker you support the demands of this letter by signing this petition: http://bit.ly/tell-charlie-baker

News Roundup: October

Campaign Update – Mothers Out Front Joins Buildings Campaign

We’re building a coalition to green our buildings! This month, Mothers Out Front adopted a better BERDO 2.0 as one of their priorities. BERDO is the City’s 2014 ordinance mandating certain energy efficiency actions in buildings 35,000 square feet or larger. The City has begun a process to strengthen BERDO in line with the City’s goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.

We’re thrilled to have such an energetic ally on this campaign. With allies like Mothers Out Front our coalition can outweigh the resistance of some in the real estate industry who don’t want to see tougher regulation. We support the City of Boston as it works to enact stronger, more enforceable regulations. When BERDO 2.0 becomes law, we will urge the Mayor to implement it with adequate personnel resources to help the owners, managers and occupants of the largest buildings in the city cut their carbon footprints effectively and rapidly. Join us when Mothers Out Front holds their first buildings campaign orientation on the evening of December 7. Please register!

Climate News – Thousands of Environmentalists Vote for the First Time

Thanks to the efforts of the Environmental Voter Project (EVP), 259,575 environmentalists have already cast their first-ever ballots in the 2020 election. EVP’s website states that “tens of millions of Americans strongly prioritize progressive environmental policies – the real problem is that these people do not vote.” Its mission: to turn this group into consistent voters. This year, the non-profit has concentrated its efforts in 11 swing states.

What Can You Do?

Vote! Election Day is Tuesday, November 3. Polls are open from 7 am to 8 pm. If Trump loses the election but won’t accept defeat, then plan to join an action to protect our democracy. Peaceful protests can keep the government and courts accountable by demanding that every vote be counted. Be prepared to show up until Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021. In Boston, Protect the Results Mobilization is planned for November 4, 3:30 pm, 139 Tremont Street. To find an event in your city or town go to https://protecttheresults.com

Upcoming Events

The BCAN Action Team meetings have changed dates for the remainder of the year! To avoid conflicts with Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Action Team will meet on the first and third Thursdays of the month, with the next meeting this Thursday, November 5 at 6 pm on Zoom.

Join us to get all the latest updates about CCE and the buildings campaign, and ways you can get involved.

King Tide Rally 10/17/2020

On Saturday 10/17, members of BCAN joined forces for the King Tide Rising Seas Rally. King Tides are especially high tides that occur during new or full moons, and pose an added danger to coastal cities such as Boston when combined with climate change. Click through the gallery below to check out some of the highlights from the event!

“Say Her Name”: BostonCAN in solidarity with Black Lives Matter Boston

BostonCAN helped to swell the crowd during the “Say Her Name” march and rally, sponsored by Black Lives Matter Boston, on Saturday, July 4. The event was organized to “center and uplift the lives of ALL Black womxn [with] radical joy and dancing because, as Audre Lorde wrote, ‘it is better to speak/remembering/we were never meant to survive.’ Womxn hold up half the sky all over the world and have always been essential, yet Black womxn are too often overlooked, erased, and devalued.”

BostonCAN volunteers at the Say Her Name rally.
BostonCAN calling for justice for Black women

“Green Buildings” FAQ

On Earth Day 2020, we launched a petition drive as part of our “Green Buildings, Not Greenhouse Gases” campaign. The petition is aimed at accelerating the pace of energy retrofits of large, existing buildings citywide. Because the current applicable city law, BERDO, is not strong enough to ensure that these retrofits happen, the petition asks the City to amend BERDO with strict building emissions standards and to ensure that they are implemented and enforced.   

Since the petition launch, we have been receiving some great questions from our members and the general public. Read on: your question may be answered here. 

What is the big idea behind your “Green Buildings” campaign?

The ultimate purpose is to reduce the carbon emissions that cause climate change. The latest update to Boston’s Climate Action Plan includes steps to reduce carbon emissions in three main sectors: buildings, transportation, and energy supply. 

Why did BCAN decide to focus on buildings

Over 70% of citywide greenhouse gases come from buildings. While it is important to reduce carbon pollution from all sources, BCAN wanted to concentrate on the sector with the most emissions.

Why existing buildings?

An estimated 85% of the buildings that will exist in Boston in 2050 are already built today. (That said, it is also important to keep new buildings from adding to the emissions problem. The Boston Clean Energy Coalition, of which BCAN is a member, is leading a separate campaign to ensure the adoption of net zero standards for new buildings.)

Why large ones?

Boston’s largest buildings—less than 3% of the total number–account for about half of total citywide emissions. 

Which buildings are we talking about?

Specifically,

  • nonresidential buildings that are 35,000 square feet or larger,
  • residential buildings that are 35,000 square feet or larger, or have 35 or more units, and
  • any parcel with multiple buildings that sum to 100,000 square feet or 100 units.

This group of 2,200 buildings encompasses many types: hospitals, laboratories, universities, office buildings, hotels, multi-family housing, and more. Some are owned by the City, but many are privately owned. 

What is BERDO?

BERDO, the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance, is a City law passed in 2013. It requires owners of large buildings (as defined above) to report annual energy and water usage to the City. It also requires the City to make the data public. Every five years, owners are required to do something additional about their energy usage: either take an energy action or get an energy assessment.  

What happens if building owners don’t comply?

The penalties specified under BERDO are light. The Air Pollution Control Commission, which is part of the City’s Environment Department, is authorized to fine non-compliant owners or tenants. However, the fines are capped at $3,000 per building annually, and applying them is cumbersome because it involves taking non-compliers to court. In actuality, the City has not been enforcing BERDO. BCAN believes the City needs to allocate more staff resources to the implementation of this law.  

Why do you say that existing requirements are not strong enough?

Every five years, owners of large buildings are required either to take an energy action or get an energy assessment.

To fulfill the “action” option, owners may prove their buildings are already energy-efficient by earning certain certifications, or demonstrate that they have achieved a 15% reduction in energy use. However, the worsening pace of the climate crisis necessitates a higher rate of reduction.

The “assessment” option, while a valuable start, does not alone seem like sufficient progress for a five-year period. 

What kind of changes would building owners need to make in order to make a difference?

There are many ways to reduce a building’s carbon footprint: insulation and air-sealing; more efficient heating, cooling, and lighting; producing or purchasing “green” electricity; occupant behavior changes; and more. What will work best is different for different buildings. 

Massachusetts’ cities and towns cannot specify how buildings must be built. They must adopt one of two building codes passed by the state. This is why Boston will update BERDO with a carbon emissions standard, setting limits that will probably vary by building size and type. It will be up to owners to decide how to meet the standard. That said, the City will offer guidance to owners and builders about ways to cut carbon emissions.     

How will this measure move forward at City Hall?

The Environment Department is leading a technical analysis that will use input from experts and citizens to decide on a new carbon emissions standard. By 2021, the new standard will be proposed to the City Council, who will be asked to pass it as an amendment to BERDO, replacing the old action/assessment requirement.   

How does my signing the petition help?

In its latest Climate Action Plan, the City has committed to a new carbon emissions standard for existing buildings. However, government plans can lose steam without support and demand from citizens. By signing the petition, you provide evidence that Bostonians want owners to fix their large buildings in order to protect our climate. 

Have another question that isn’t answered here? We’d love to hear from you. Email Andy, our coordinator, at andy@bostoncan.org.

Solidarity Strengthens our Movement: Black Lives Matter

Boston Climate Action Network understands that solidarity strengthens us rather than weakens us. Standing with movements that are not primarily focused on climate change expands our ability to envision and actualize a more equitable, sustainable world. As an organization focused on organizing City of Boston residents to speak out for climate justice, we know that anti-Black racism is one of the barriers we face to achieving our mission of climate justice; we also know that climate change continues to disproportionately affect communities of color.

In this historic moment when the flames of racist violence are being fanned by figures of authority, we join the majority in demanding societal recognition that Black Lives Matter and an end to systemic racism.  We invite you to join us in learning from the many Black activists speaking out about the links between police brutality, anti- Black racism, and environmental sustainability. Here are a few to get you started.

Dominique Thomas, 350.org Northeast Regional Organizer: “Black people in this country are being systematically suffocated, whether that’s with police officers using their knees to suffocate us, through the coronavirus attacking our lungs, or whether that’s through the fossil fuel industry…”

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson: marine biologist and founder of the non-profit think tank Urban Ocean Lab: “…If we want to successfully address climate change, we need people of color. Not just because pursuing diversity is a good thing to do, and not even because diversity leads to better decision-making and more effective strategies, but because, black people are significantly more concerned about climate change than white people (57 percent vs. 49 percent), and Latinx people are even more concerned (70 percent). To put that in perspective, it means that more than 23 million black Americans already care deeply about the environment and could make a huge contribution to the massive amount of climate work that needs doing….” 
https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/06/03/im-black-climate-scientist-racism-derails-our-efforts-save-planet/

Mary Annaïse Heglar, writer in residence at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and co-creator of the Hot Take podcast: “…it’s not just time to talk about climate — it’s time to talk about it as the Black issue it is. It’s time to stop whitewashing it. In other words, it’s time to stop #AllLivesMattering the climate crisis. It’s time to talk about how extreme heat exacerbates police violence and increases deaths from tasers. It’s time to talk about what happens in prisons, which often lack air conditioning and heat, as temperatures skyrocket. It’s time to talk about climate gentrification. It’s time to talk about the use of tear gas — which hurts respiratory systems during a pandemic that is already disproportionately affecting Black people — as environmental racism….” https://www.huffpost.com/entry/climate-crisis-racism-environmenal-justice_n_5ee072b9c5b6b9cbc7699c3d


Boston Climate Action Network is a member of Boston Clean Energy Coalition. We endorse its statement, posted to Facebook on June 12, 2020.

Statement of Solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives

The Boston Clean Energy Coalition (BCEC) stands in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and all those working towards racial justice. BCEC was established in early 2017 to address the growing existential crisis of climate catastrophe, with a particular focus on grassroots organizing.

The destabilization of our global climate has its roots in the same exploitative and extractive foundation of our nation and the heart of our economic system, and to this day is inexorably entwined with the culture of white supremacy. While we have always understood this underlying connection between social and environmental injustice, the current moment requires us to step up our anti-racist efforts. Systemic racism demands systemic solutions that are based on listening, learning, empathy, solidarity, and action. No matter what lane we occupy in building a sustainable future, we can and will find ways to center and support racial justice.

We know that systemic racism is directly tied to an undue burden of environmental pollution and public health risk factors. We have seen the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on folks identifying as black, indigenous, or people of color, and remain concerned about the environmental disparities that have contributed to this outcome. When “I Can’t Breathe” is again the horrible rallying cry against institutional racism, we also know that it is the awful daily truth for those who live in the most polluted areas of our city, in the sacrifice zones. We join the demand for justice for the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and many others. We state loudly and publicly that Black Lives Matter.