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Community Choice Energy

We're giving Boston residents greater control over the kind of energy they use in their homes, and the price of that energy.

Through this program, the City of Boston will pool the buying power of electricity customers. This will give communities the chance to buy energy as a group for everyone. This type of program is also known as municipal aggregation, or community choice aggregation.

Have questions? Contact:

Filing update

The Department of Public Utilities issued its procedural schedule for Boston’s case:

  • Deadline to serve information requests: Dec. 2, 2019
  • Final comments due: Jan. 6, 2020
  • Final reply comments due: Jan. 21, 2020

Boston’s public filing documents are on the state's website, under docket #19-65.

What is Community Choice Energy?

Through Community Choice Energy, cities and towns combine the buying power of electricity customers in their communities.

Creating bulk buying groups

Under this type of program, cities and towns enroll residents who receive default electricity service into a single buying group. They may also require a greater percentage of renewable energy than the mandatory amount set by the state.

Impact

The City of Boston is committed to being carbon neutral by 2050.

Carbon neutrality means that Boston can only release as much carbon pollution as our local environment can absorb. To get to carbon neutrality, Boston must run on clean energy. Learn about all the ways that Boston is working to reduce carbon pollution here.

Benefits of the program

"Green" municipal aggregation is one of several tools Boston can use to buy more clean energy and reduce carbon pollution. This program may also allow Boston residents to:

Proposed Plan

Boston's Community Choice Power Supply Program Aggregation Plan is currently with the Department of Public Utilities (DPU).

Read the Plan

DPU Notice of Filing and Public Hearing

The plan sets out the rules for how the aggregation will work, including:
  • eligibility
  • voluntary participation
  • right to opt out at any time
  • equitable treatment for customers in the same class, and
  • enrollment and billing processes.
The plan does not:
  • set prices
  • establish the amount or type of carbon free generation which will be included, and
  • establish the term of the contract.

Those matters will be determined by the City after the plan is approved. The City is working with a community working group to explore those issues.

Process

The City will follow the steps toward aggregation as laid out by the state. We will work with the state and a consultant to prepare a plan, get community feedback and receive approval to move forward.

The City is also convening a working group to inform the proposed plan and guide how we put it in place. After we are approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, the City will be able to start the program.

Image for city of boston community choice energy tracker v3

Consultants

We’re excited to work with Colonial Power Group and Community Paradigm Associates. They will help us design and roll out our Community Choice Energy program.

Colonial Power Group helps Massachusetts cities and towns launch and manage energy aggregation programs. They’ve brought their expertise to more than 60 municipalities so far.

Community Paradigm Associates specializes in municipal law and process. They will also help us with collaborative decision-making and community engagement. 

Working Group

The City is convening a working group of Boston residents. As we develop the Community Choice Energy program, they will serve as:

  • experts
  • advocates, and
  • community leaders.

The group will meet often over the duration of this process. For questions about the working group, please contact the Environment Department.

Program principles

Principles

To guide our decisions around Boston's aggregation program. These principles came from discussions with our working group.

A principal goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We want to support the City’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Socially vulnerable populations are exposed to the greatest risks of:

  • increased carbon pollution, and
  • the impacts of climate change.

We want to benefit these communities and offer them new economic opportunities. We're committed to represent at-risk populations throughout:

  • planning
  • implementation
  • education, and
  • outreach.

Purchases of renewable power will support the development of new renewable energy projects.

We will look to source renewable power from new rather than existing projects. We want to increase the total amount of renewable generation on the regional grid. This is what is meant by additionality.

When buying renewable energy through credits or direct investment, we're staying local. Energy will be sourced, in order of preference, from projects:

  1. in Boston
  2. in Massachusetts
  3. if outside of Massachusetts, within the New England region, and 
  4. then elsewhere, as long as additionality can be demonstrated.

Aggregation products must represent affordable choices. Product pricing should also stay stable over longer periods of time than the utility’s default service.

In Boston, 22 percent of households are severely housing-cost burdened. These households spend 50 percent or more of their income on housing costs. Utility costs are also a big concern for low-income renters. This program aims to help with that burden, not make it worse.

We want to displace for-profit aggregators that target vulnerable residents with deceptive products. These products may offer low introductory rates that are rapidly increased. They may also include undisclosed fees.