Community Choice Electricity
What is Community Choice Electricity?
The City of Boston is preparing to launch its Community Choice Electricity program. The program will allow the City to buy electricity on behalf of residents and businesses. By combining our buying power, the City will be able to provide affordable and renewable electricity to those who participate in the program.
Under the program, Eversource (the local utility) will continue to deliver electricity to you over their power lines. They will also continue to provide customer service and billing. Participation in the program would only change your electric supply.
The program ensures that energy decisions are made locally. These decisions will reflect the needs and desires of Boston’s communities. We worked with a group of local stakeholders to establish a set of program principles. These principles will guide the program as it moves forward. The stakeholders included local experts and advocates, community leaders, and residents.
Community Choice Electricity is also known as:
- community choice energy
- community choice aggregation, or
- municipal aggregation.
The program's principles will guide the design and implementation of the program. The principles are to:
- strengthen consumer protection
- offer affordable and stable electric rates
- reduce carbon emissions
- increase the share of renewable energy on the grid
- support local renewable energy, and
- commit to environmental justice.
Some residents have signed electric contracts with for-profit companies called competitive electric suppliers. Competitive electric suppliers sell electricity directly to residential customers. Signing these contracts can carry certain risks. The program will offer residents an alternative option for their electric supply. Learn more about the issues with competitive electric suppliers.
We intend to set low-cost electric rates that remain fixed over long periods of time. More affordable and consistent rates will help residents with their financial planning.
The City of Boston is committed to cutting carbon emissions and becoming carbon neutral by 2050. The Community Choice Electricity program supports this vision through its focus on renewable electricity. Learn about the ways that Boston is working toward carbon neutrality.
We plan to increase the total amount of renewable energy on the regional grid. When the program purchases renewable electricity for its customers it will do so with the goal of supporting and incentivizing the development of new renewable energy projects.
When buying renewable electricity for the Community Choice Electricity program, we will strive to stay local. Listed in order of preference, the program will prioritize renewable sources from:
- Within New England
We recognize that socially vulnerable communities are disproportionately harmed by pollution and climate change. The program aims to deliver benefits and economic opportunities to these communities. We are also committed to the representation of socially vulnerable communities as we plan and roll out the program.
The City of Boston developed its Community Choice Electricity program through a state-mandated process. Part of that process required the City to draft a plan for the program. Currently, the City is waiting for the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to approve its plan. Once the plan is approved, we can establish the electric rates and renewable energy content that residents will receive through the program.
You can follow the regulatory approval process for the program. Boston’s public filing documents are on the state's website under docket #19-65. Instructions for viewing:
- Go to the Department of Public Utilities' website.
- Along the gray, horizontal, menu bar click “Dockets/Filings” for a drop-down menu.
- Select “Docket by Number.”
- Enter "19-65" in the search box and click “Go.”
Note: The filings are listed by date. The most recent filings appear at the top of the screen.
The City’s plan for the program addresses basic elements of the program's organizational structure and operations. The plan:
- allows for universal access to the program and for customers to opt-in or opt-out of the program at any time
- includes a strategy for program outreach and education
- establishes enrollment and billing processes for customers of the program, and
- establishes a process through which the City will negotiate electric supply contracts and set rates.
Once the plan is approved, the City will negotiate electric contracts with electric suppliers that establish the:
- electric rates
- amount and type of renewable electricity that the program will offer, and
- duration of the electric contracts (essential for setting stable rates).
Eversource offers residents a default electric supply option called Basic Service. The Community Choice Electricity program aims to offer rates below this Basic Service rate. However, because Basic Service rates change twice a year or more, this may not always be possible. The program will work to deliver cost savings, however, we cannot guarantee savings.
The City has convened a working group to guide and shape the Community Choice Electricity program. The working group includes local experts and advocates, community leaders, and residents. They have met since December 2018 and helped draft the program's principles. They will continue to meet as we move forward with the program.
The City hired two consultants to help with the design and rollout of the program. Our consultants are Colonial Power Group and Community Paradigm Associates.
Colonial Power Group helps Massachusetts cities and towns with their municipal aggregation programs. To date, Colonial has provided consultancy services to more than 80 municipalities.
Community Paradigm Associates specializes in municipal processes and strategic analysis. They will work with us on decision-making and community engagement.