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  • Stephanie Boyd

Electricity - getting the right price

Electricity rates are high and the industry seems so incomprehensible!!


Thankfully, the Williamstown Cool Committee has been working with the Town Administration over the past several years to make sure we get competitive rates with low environmental impact. We want much of our electricity to come from certified green sources.


So what is going on?


The text below is excerpted from the Cool Committee website (and was originally written by Nancy Nylen, Wendy Penner and me):


Several Berkshire communities, including Williamstown, are providing stable pricing, and in some cases savings, to residents on their electric bills through the Colonial Power Community Choice aggregation program.  For most Williamstown residents, the electricity supply is managed by Colonial Power Group (and sourced from Dynegy), at a negotiated rate—unless you specifically chose to “opt out” or have previously chosen a competitive supplier.


What is a Community Choice Aggregation?

A municipal electricity aggregation program enables local governments to combine the purchasing power of their residents and businesses to negotiate better prices, a cleaner/greener supply and contract terms (duration, power mix, renewable sources, etc.) with an alternative electricity supplier.  These aggregation programs can provide stable pricing and in some instances savings to residents.


What will I save?

National Grid supply charge is currently $0.182/kWh and the Williamstown aggregation rate is $0.160/kWh.  Through July of 2024 Williamstown residents can expect to see an average savings of $13 per month (based on average usage of 600 kWh/month) by participating in the town’s community choice aggregation program vs. paying National Grid’s basic service rate.  Your electric supply will also have a higher percentage of renewable energy.





Your savings will depend on the amount of electricity you use and your current rate. Customers in other towns will see different savings as the electricity supply charge is not the same.



I want in!  What should I do?

Step 1.  Check to see if you are already enrolled

  • On your electricity bill from National Grid or Eversource, find where it says Supply Services,  SUPPLIER. If you are already enrolled, DYNEGY will be listed as the supplier,  and you are all set!  If DYNEGY doesn’t  appear,  go on to Step 2

Step 2.  Opt In


OR


  • Call Dynegy Energy Services at 866-220-5696 and ask to join the Town of Williamstown’s Program.  They will know how to help you.  Residents of other participating Berkshire towns can use the same phone number.


 

Enrollments can only be processed after a recent electric meter reading so it may take one or two billing cycles before taking effect.  


That’s all you need to know but if you want to dig in deeper, keep reading. 


Will the savings remain constant?

Williamstown’s negotiated rate of 16.02 cents per kWh is good through November 2025. Basic Service rates from National Grid or Eversource, however, change twice a year or more, depending on the rate class. As a result, the aggregation rate may not always be lower than the Basic Service rate. The goal of the aggregation is to deliver savings over the life of the program compared to the utilities’ Basic Service rate. However, such savings and future savings cannot be guaranteed.


There is no fee to exit the aggregation. You may call National Grid at 1-800-322-3223 to opt out of the aggregation or contact Dynegy at 866-220-5696.  


What are the electricity supply rate rates available in our area?

Other cities and towns included in the Berkshire Community Choice aggregation program and their rates and term information can be found at: https://colonialpowergroup.com/our-communities/



What if I am currently receiving the low-income delivery rate, will that change?

If you are receiving R-2 low income delivery you will continue to receive those benefits.   


Currently R-2 customers receive a 32% discount on their whole electricity bill. You will continue to receive the low income reduction, R-2 rate, currently at 32%, after you switch to the aggregation program.  Electricity bills included service charges and supplier charge. Services charges include a monthly customer charge, and per kwh charges of transmission, energy efficiency, distributed solar, electric vehicle, renewable energy, and transition.



Purchasing electric supply from a supplier other than National Grid does not affect your eligibility for fuel assistance or other programs designed to help income-eligible families and individuals needing special assistance to meet their energy needs.  To learn more visit nationalgridus.com/MA-Home/Bill-Help/Payment-Assistance-Programs.


Can I buy electricity from other suppliers?

There are a number of suppliers offering electricity contracts.  In our area either National Grid or Eversource own the power lines. They bill you for transportation/delivery of the electricity, and other surcharges like energy efficiency, renewable energy, etc. but other companies supply the electricity.  


Berkshire County towns have worked with an aggregation consulting company, Colonial Power Group, to provide you with the best available rate and terms of service through contracting with power supplier Dynegy, Inc.  


If you are considering switching electricity suppliers you should compare their prices and terms to the aggregated program.  The other suppliers may or may not offer green energy options beyond state requirements.  There may be penalties for canceling your contract, so you should review your agreement carefully.  Constellation, for example, after a 90 day guarantee period, may charge $150 if you cancel your contract before the end of the term.  


Is the electric supply in the aggregation program coming from renewable energy sources?

All power suppliers must meet the Massachusetts requirement that at least some minimum percentage of electricity comes from approved renewable energy sources. More information about where that energy comes from can be found here


The Williamstown aggregation program has included an additional 25% renewable energy above the state minimum standards, comprised of MA Class I RECs.  This helps to incentivize New England renewable energy projects, create more job opportunities in the New England energy sector, support the New England economy and contribute to the Williamstown goal of Net Zero Greenhouse Gas emissions.  


Other towns may have chosen not to include additional renewable energy or may have selected an additional 5% or 10% renewable sources.


I need help understanding my utility bill!

Electricity bills can be confusing. National Grid has provided a detailed description of how to read your electric bill here.


I signed up with Green Energy Consumers Alliance.  Does that matter?

Some of you have been paying for green electricity on top of the National Grid electricity supply rate.  It shows up as an additional charge on your utility bill.  


You may be paying $0.022/kwh for 25% green power or $0.038 for 100% green power from Green Energy Consumers Alliance.   


You cannot continue in the Green Energy Consumers Alliance program while participating in the aggregation program, but it’s worth noting that our aggregation agreement includes a 25% Class I Renewable Energy Credit (REC) component.


If you are interested in learning more Green Energy Consumers Alliance services visit: www.greenenergyconsumers.org to explore your options or call 800-287-3950 x5 


Which Berkshire towns are participating in the Community Choice aggregation?


The following towns are participating in the aggregation but rates and terms vary.  Check the Colonial Power website for details.

Adams 

Cheshire

Clarksburg

Dalton

Florida

Lenox

Monterey

New Marlborough 

North Adams 

Pittsfield 

Sheffield

Williamstown

West Stockbridge 


What other ways can I lower my electric bill?

Williamstown homeowners, renters, landlords and businesses can lower their electric and other utility bills by making their homes and businesses more energy efficient. 

To learn about generous rebates on high efficiency appliances and heating and cooling equipment, including NEW increased incentives for heat pumps, go to: https://www.masssave.com/community-first/williamstown


What if I have solar panels?

If you have solar panels you will continue to receive your net metering credits


Net metering and on-bill credits will work the same way with the Community Choice Power Supply Program. You will continue to receive your net metering or on-bill credits while benefiting from the aggregation rate on your electricity. The Local Utility will continue to post your net meter or on-bill credits to your electric bill at your Local Utility’s Basic Service rate. Therefore, depending on the Local Utility’s then-current Basic Service rate, credits will be calculated at a higher or lower rate than the aggregation rate.  https://colonialpowergroup.com/net-metering/


This is a fascinating topic. I want to understand more.

Residents may also contact Colonial Power Group, the Town’s aggregation consultant, at (866) 485-5858 ext. 1 with questions about Williamstown’s Community Choice Power Supply Program.


Send an email to Williamstown COOL Committee and they will try to answer your questions or point you in the right direction,  coolwilliamstown@gmail.com




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