CCE in the Boston Globe

The Boston Globe released an editorial on Community Choice Energy in its October 8th print edition.

There are lots of reasons for Boston to lead the way with this sort of program. One, of course, is that the city sits on the water and is sure to feel the effects of climate change for years to come. But that’s not all.

Boston is an important city. It’s the largest in New England. It’s filled with top-notch scientists and big thinkers, and its citizens increasingly feel like citizens of the world. Boston needs to do something. This is something. Let’s do it.

Read the whole editorial here.

It’s powerful to see the momentum building on this campaign as group after group comes out in support of CCE.  Now is the time to keep the pressure on!  Call Boston 311 to tell the Mayor’s office that you support CCE and want it to be a priority.

CCE Authorized Unanimously!

Boston City Council voted unanimously today to authorize Marty Walsh to implement Community Choice Energy. This is a huge step forward toward our goal of having a citywide green electricity purchasing program!

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Big Showing at City Council Today

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Boston City Council hearing this afternoon. We packed the hall, filling every seat, lining up against the back wall, with people standing outside the door. Together, we made our voice heard — our city councilors heard that Bostonians want green energy, and that we want them to vote yes on Community Choice Energy.  The councilors present reacted positively and there was a good vibe going in the room.

The next step is getting Mayor Walsh to agree.

You can help right now by calling Mayor Walsh at 311. Tell his staff members that you want him to implement CCE. To verify that you’re a resident, be sure to give your name and address.

It’s that simple, and that important.

Hearing Tuesday: Boston must step up the pace of climate action!

This Tuesday, BCAN and our allies will argue before Boston’s City Council that the city government must take a crucial step to speed up its actions to fight climate change: implement Community Choice Energy. Be there: anytime from 1:30 till 5pm, in the City Council’s temporary meeting room at 26 Court Street, one block up hill from State Street Station.

Boston’s leaders know that addressing climate change with a range of tactics is essential, but hardly any attention has been focused on switching our energy dollars from fossil fuels to clean, safe and renewable energy. Community Choice Energy is a tactic that numerous other cities and towns in eastern Mass. have already embraced. It’s time for Boston to take this step too.

This can’t wait for another plan to be created. Climate change is already affecting Boston residents with heat waves and stronger storms. Just this past Saturday a torrential downpour produced severe flooding in East Boston and other North Shore communities. Here’s a report compiled by The Harborkeepers:

“Yesterday was another warning sign of the increasing impacts of the changing climate and the increase of more frequent and intense storm events and precipitation. East Boston received 4.54 inches of rain within a matter of hours. Other North Shore towns like Winthrop and Lynn underwent a worse fate, in some ways. I took some notes and did a recap.

  • East Boston received 4.54 inches, most of it in a matter of hours
  • Homes in East Boston which typically don’t get basement flooding got their basements flooded
  • The stormwater drainage system & sewers could not handle the amount of rain hence they overflowed
  • Route 1A in East Boston both South and North by the Chelsea Street bridge and right next to the oil terminal got flooded causing an accident, at least 1 car stuck and backups on the highway
  • 2 neighborhoods in particular in Lynn and Winthrop (Michael’s Mall & Ingleside Park) were  flooded with more than three feet of water causing cars to get stuck and forcing evacuations of homes and rescues2017-9-30 Winthrop flooding
  • Power outages were reported in Winthrop, East Boston and Lynn
  • Unprecedented amounts of rain gushed down the hills of Orient Heights causing a mudslide from Gladstone to Leyden streets which broke a retaining wall and pushed mud and silt down city streets and sewers
  • Some roads and streets were flooded to the point of being impassable including in Winthrop, Lynn, Chelsea, Revere and East Boston
  • A house fire was reported at around 3am in the area where there was flooding in Winthrop
  • Downed distribution poles also were reported.”

Community choice energy would significantly speed up our transition to renewable power. Come out on Tuesday and let the City Council and the Mayor know it’s time to step it up on reducing Boston’s use of fossil fuels.

CCE Before the City Council

During the Boston City Council meeting on August 2, Council President Michelle Wu and Councilor Matt O’Malley introduced an order authorizing the City of Boston to research and develop a community choice energy (CCE) contract and to solicit bids from alternative electricity suppliers. The order stipulates a default offering with at least 5% more renewables than is currently required by state law, with an option to opt up to 100% renewables.

In her remarks, Councilor Wu thanked Mayor Walsh for his advocacy on climate change issues. “Minutes after [President Trump’s] decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord,” she said, “Boston was in the national news announcing that we would proceed no matter what.” However, she went on to stress the importance of adding CCE to the portfolio of climate measures already planned by the Walsh administration. “For the safety of our neighborhoods with heat island effects, and so many other ways that climate change disproportionately hurts low income residents and the seniors and those medically vulnerable, we have to do more to reverse climate change,” Wu said.

Councilor O’Malley echoed the need to do more. “I wanted to let you in on a little secret,” he said. “The City of Boston has won a number of awards for being environmentally courageous and showing leadership. The secret is that we don’t deserve it yet. But we can. A great first step to do that will be passing community choice energy.”

Eight other city councilors – Campbell, Ciommo, Essaibi George, Flaherty, Jackson, LaMattina, McCarthy, and Zakim – have co-sponsored the order, indicating their interest in studying it further. As the next step in the process, the City Council will hold a hearing, anticipated this fall. Stay tuned for the date, and go to the Community Choice Energy website to sign our petition!

More Choice — Not Less — Through Community Choice Energy

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.

 

Contacting Public Officials About Community Choice Energy

To make Boston officials adopt renewable energy policies as quickly as possible, we as residents need to make our voices heard. The best way to do this is by contacting the mayor and your city councilor directly, to say that you want Community Choice Energy (CCE) available in Boston.  You may call, email or send a letter by U.S. post.

When calling an office, begin by stating your name and address. This lets the staffer  know that you’re actually a resident, not some paid political operative.

Tell the staff member that you want the mayor or councilor to support CCE. To show that your concern is genuine, you should briefly mention one something related to one of the talking points listed below (please don’t read these verbatim to the staffer, as that lessens the impact of your call):

  1. CCE will make renewable energy affordable for residents and small businesses.
  2. Adopting renewable energy will help Boston reduce its carbon emissions to fight climate change.
  3. As a city, Boston will be able to meet the terms of the Paris Accord, which will improve our reputation internationally.
  4. Renewable energy will create many new jobs in the city.
  5. Moving to renewable energy will ensure that Boston stays a center of innovation, which will attract more business to our city.
  6. CCE will stabilize our electricity bills, helping households and business to more easily plan their budgets.
  7. CCE democratizes decisions concerning electricity generation, allowing people to use the economic power of their utility bill payments to push for a faster transition to a fossil-fuel-free future.

Staff members in government offices are always busy, so be brief and stick to just one or two reasons why you support CCE. Personal reasons like owning a business in the City, living in a neighborhood that is particularly vulnerable to climate change, etc., are also effective.  Above all, be polite.  Political offices usually discard comments from rude people.

When sending an email or writing an old-fashioned letter, it’s best to follow the standard business letter format. It makes you look more credible, and the official’s staff members will take your opinion more seriously.

Format for CCE Letter

{Your street address}
{City, MA zip code}

Mayor Martin J. Walsh
1 City Hall Square, Suite 500
Boston, MA 02201

-or-

Councilor {Your councilor’s name}
1 City Hall Square
Room 550
Boston, MA 02201

{Date on which you are writing the letter}

Dear Mayor Walsh -or- Councilor {Councilor’s Name}:
{Body of the Letter}

Sincerely,
{Your name}
{Your email address}

In the body of the letter, introduce yourself as a resident of Boston and indicate your home neighborhood.  Then in one or two sentences, ask the mayor or your councilor to support CCE, and explain why you want them to.  You may use one or more of the talking points listed above.  Keep the letter short and courteous. End by asking the councilor or mayor to let you know where they stand on CCE.

If you send your letter via email, feel free to cc City Council President Michelle Wu and City Councilor Matt O’Malley, who are leading the effort to pass a CCE authorization in City Council: Michelle.Wu@boston.gov or Matthew.OMalley@boston.gov. We also encourage emails to the three other at-large Councilors: Ayanna Pressley,  Ayanna.Pressley@boston.gov; Michael Flaherty, Michael.F.Flaherty@boston.gov; and Annissa Essaibi George, A.E.George@boston.gov.

Contact info for all the Councilors is available at: https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council.