CCE Automatic Enrollment: Done for Us, Not to Us

As the City of Boston rolls out Community Choice Electricity (CCE), we hear or read occasional criticism of the program’s “opt-out” nature. To some, switching customers into the program unless they object feels like overreach, and non-transparent. We firmly disagree that the City has been either deceptive or coercive.

Communication about CCE has been open. The City sent a letter to every eligible customer, explaining the program, the comparative rates, and the available choices, including opting out. If the letter’s recipients, like its critics, found it confusing, it included clear instructions about where to get more information. Additionally, CCE has been well-advertised across several platforms, with many opportunities for engagement around questions and concerns. These have included press releases, posters, webinars on multiple dates with translation into multiple languages, and virtual “office hours” with City officials.

To those who find automatic enrollment in CCE heavy-handed, we offer a reminder: before CCE, people moving to Boston were not left to shop on their own for an energy provider, either. Instead, incoming residents were automatically assigned to Eversource, where they stayed unless they took the initiative to contract with a different electricity supplier. If it was previously acceptable for Eversource to be the default supplier, why is it a concern now to establish a different default that offers greener energy? The rollout only moves customers from one default to another: anyone who has already chosen a supplier other than Eversource will not be moved. And customers who are switched do not lose any of their choices: although January 11 was the deadline to prevent being enrolled in CCE, people can still switch back to Eversource at any time—or, alternatively, change to a more or less expensive CCE plan.

CCE skeptics also note that CCE’s rates are only guaranteed to be lower than Eversource’s through June, and that CCE could possibly end up costing more over all. However, every supplier changes its rates periodically, and there is no guarantee that Eversource will be the cheapest in the long run, either. What we do know is that the City is committed to keeping rates favorable and stable over time, being a principle priority of the program as disclosed on their website.

We get it: no one likes to feel pushed around. But that is not what’s happening here. Opt-out programs are designed to sign up a critical mass of participants in a timely way, not by entrapping the unwilling, but by making the process effortless for the rest.    

CCE is a critical element of Boston’s Climate Action Plan, which aims for our city to be carbon neutral by 2050. We think that implementing CCE efficiently is a form of facilitation, not pressure. Claiming that city government either overstepped its bounds or was secretive in the instance of the CCE rollout is not factual. When the City Council hearing on CCE was held in 2017, over 300 Bostonians showed up to voice their support. As a city, we have demanded swift and meaningful climate action; let us not now criticize our officials for fulfilling their promise.

Donate to win big in 2021

You know the facts of climate change. You want to “fight like hell for the living,” as Mother Jones has told us. Boston Climate Action Network is leading the effort for city-level urgent and ambitious action on climate. Here are four reasons to join us in the fight and donate to make sure we win big in 2021. 

  1. We put our muscle where it makes a tangible impact. As residents of Boston, we know our City Councilors and Mayor listen to us. When we move City of Boston policy, that sets a precedent for the rest of New England. For example, soon Boston residents will have 10% more regionally produced renewable energy feeding into our electricity grid, for no extra cost, thanks to the BCAN-promoted Community Choice Electricity program.
  2. We focus on issues that take big bites of the climate apple. Our current campaign – Green Buildings, Not Greenhouse Gases – aims to radically reduce emissions from the biggest source of emissions in the city: large residential and commercial buildings.
  3. We know how to  network! There are countless groups in Boston working to solve various aspects of the climate crisis and the social crises that make climate issues so difficult to resolve. BCAN brings a social and political lens to climate organizing and builds networks for every campaign.
  4. We’re in it for the long haul. For 20 years we’ve been building the climate justice movement in Boston, training activists, educating the public with theater and song, and forming coalitions to achieve our goals. 

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain strong. This year as policies to meet our 2030 and 2050 goals are battled out in city hall and in community forums, BCAN will continue to push the envelope. The transition to low-carbon heating and high efficiency buildings will not happen unless activist groups like BCAN turn out residents to demand ambitious measures. 

Boston will also be choosing a new Mayor in 2021. The verbiage will be flying and BCAN will be there to parse the routine ideas from the truly innovative. You count on BCAN to alert you to Boston’s climate news every two weeks and to the moments when you need to show up so City Hall understands the force of people’s desire for urgent climate action.

Can we count on you to support the key role BCAN plays in leveraging Boston as a climate leader nationwide? Please become a sustaining donor this year if you do, or make the most generous annual donation your budget permits. 

Our climate is changing exponentially fast, and a dollar toward activism now can prevent having to spend hundreds of dollars for climate adaptation measures in the decades to come.

Thank you for your support!

Loie Hayes, Natasha Khatri, Judith Kolligian, Stephanie Komorowski, Terry Mason, Michael Weinstein, and Andy Wells-Bean
BCAN Board of Directors and Campaign Coordinator

PS: To donate, you can mail a check to: BCAN, POBox 300984, Boston, MA 02130;
To make a tax-deductible contribution online:

  • Go to the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund website, grassrootsfund.org/donate/now
  • Fill in your contact information and preferred contribution, then scroll down to “Program”
  • Click on “Fiscal Sponsored Group”
  • Write in “Boston Climate Action Network”

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 Standard (default)102811.409Feb.-Nov. 
CCE Optional Green 100
(opt-up)
N/A10014.764Feb.-Nov.
CCE Optional Basic
(opt-down)
01810.959Feb.-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, use this online form, or 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.

Correction, December 4, 2020. An earlier version of this post incorrectly cited typical electricity usage as 600 kWh per year, instead of per month. Comparisons of monthly supplier charges for CCE products vs. Eversource Basic Service have been recalculated accordingly.

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