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Sudbury Electric Aggregation Update

Published on December 6, 2015 under Electricity
Sudbury Electric Aggregation Update

Town Meeting (2015) quiz: remember article 42, “town wide electric aggregation?”

In case your memory of this article is faint, here’s a description and update: By approving Article 42, the Sudbury Energy Committee was tasked to aggregate the electricity consumption of its residents and seek competitive bids for its supply.

Firstly, some background:

As a reminder of the charges on your electric bill, and how the supply of electricity works with Eversource, your electric bill divides into two portions: electricity supply and its distribution.

The distribution charges support the grid operator (Eversource) and system operator (New England ISO).

The supply is provided by generators based on contracts that Eversource is required to arrange on your behalf, the “basic service.”

Eversource is not allowed to charge for arranging basic service — it’s passed through without cost mark up. Basic service’s DOER guidecomposition includes 20% renewable electricity, which is the minimum statutory requirement of the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard. You are permitted to choose an alternate supplier to Eversource, and some people do so. But, the majority of customers accept the Eversource default, because it’s time-consuming to understand the choices and weed out marketing hype. Many municipalities have developed aggregation plans, including Marlborough and Natick. Article 42 was created to seize the opportunity to improve service and choice for Sudbury residents.

Here’s the opportunity:

Might it be possible to reduce cost and allow choices in the composition of the supply if Sudbury were to contract directly for supply by using a town-hired third-party aggregator? By joining with other communities, might there be even more benefit? Also, could there be opportunity for increased renewable energy choice in the supply? These opportunities exist, but there are many steps in the process (details can be found at Mass.gov’s guide to municipal electric aggregation in Massachusetts ). Once an aggregation contract for Sudbury is in place, any individual will be permitted to opt-out in favor or Eversource basic service or another source of supply.

Currently, the Energy Committee is reviewing a response by aggregation vendors to an RFP (request for proposal) which was facilitated by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (mapc.org). MAPC’s aggregation includes other municipalities, such as Arlington and Cambridge, and offer choice(s) for electric supply that include more than the statutory minimum for renewable energy sources. An aggregation plan decision will be recommended by Energy Committee in early 2016.

— Bob Morrison

Photo credits, Colonial Power Group Lowell and Mass DOER