Town pursuing aggregate utility plan for community: Comment period ends 10/25

by beth on October 7, 2016

Post image for Town pursuing aggregate utility plan for community: Comment period ends 10/25

Town officials are seeking savings for Southborough utility customers. (Not to mention, lowering the bottom line for municipal facilities.)

Working with a contractor, Town Administrator Mark Purple hopes to find an aggregate utility rate at a lower cost than is offered by National Grid.

If you haven’t been following this, you may wonder how it effects you.

The answer is: it could save you money on your annual utility costs, cost you more, or not effect you at all. It all depends on future fluctuations in the utility market plus whether or not you pay attention to rates and opt-out options.

The public is invited to weigh in on their plan through 5:00 pm on October 25th. After that, the Town hopes to move to the next phase. Ultimately, the program is expected to launch in June.

Pursuing the plan is something Town Meeting voters approved in April. Purple explained to the public that Ashland had successfully adopted one back when he worked for the Town.

On Tuesday night, Peregrine Energy Group presented how the plan would work and answered questions from selectmen and the public.

Basically, the consultant will help the Town seek a lower rate deal. Selectmen would sign off on locking in a rate for a certain period of time (perhaps a year). All Southborough National Grid basic service customers*, would receive notice about a month before the launch. The letter would explain the rate plan and how they can choose to opt out (via enclosed postcard, phone, or online.)

If customers don’t make the effort to opt out, they will automatically be enrolled. The next utility bill from NGRid would look basically the same – just with a different provider and rate listed under the supply rate. There will be no separate/additional monthly bills.

Other things that wouldn’t change include:

  • National Grid will continue to deliver electricity, restore service after an outage, and maintain the poles and wires
  • Net metering will remain the same
  • Low-income discounts will remain the same

Peregrine consultant Marlana Patton explained that customers could likely see temporary fluctuations that result in higher rates for short periods. But the goal would be to save over the long run of the contract. Meanwhile, she can’t predict or promise significant savings. She could share that she has typically seen average households save $20-$70 per year.

Resident Desiree Aselbekian asked about what would happen if there was an unexpected plummet in market rates. (She gave an example of when oil prices dropped, but many customers were locked in to long-term contracts at a higher rate.) Patton reasserted that customers would be free to opt out at any time after the launch. But, the Town could not. (And therefore, neither would customers who don’t monitor the situation.)

Resident Rob Gonsiewski said that he often switches suppliers for better rates. He wanted to know if customers opt out, can they opt back in to the aggregate plan.  Apparently not. (At least not until the next contract negotiated with the Town.)

Customers can’t just jump in and out of the aggregate plan based on whether the locked rate is higher or lower than market rates. But they can opt back in to using the supplier at its offered market rate if they like it better than NGrid rates or other suppliers.

Patton also explained that some communities choose to have renewable sources as part of the power supply, in an effort to be green. That raises the cost.  And some communities chose to allow customers to opt in to a renewable supply, thus raising costs for those customers only.

The Town has posted to its website:

Southborough Electricity Aggregation . . .
More information available at www.masspowerchoice.com/southborough

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD

The draft Southborough Community Power Choice aggregation plan is available for public review and comment until 5:00 PM on October 25, 2016. To review the plan, you may download it or you may obtain a hard copy in the Town Administrator’s office at 17 Common Street in Southborough.

Residents and business owners are encouraged to review the plan and submit written comments to Lori Esposito by email [to lesposito@southboroughma.com] or by mail to [Lori Esposito, Executive Assistant to the Board of Selectmen, Town of Southborough, 17 Common St, Southborough, MA 01772].

Click here to see the plan. Click here for the powerpoint presentation. And click here, to see the presentation followed by Q&A at this week’s meeting.

*Customers who are already signed up with another supplier (not the basic National Grid plan) would not be part of the aggregate.

(image from Town announcement)

1 Rev. Phil LaBelle October 9, 2016 at 3:02 PM

St. Mark’s Church will have its Community Pasta Dinner rain or shine! We’ll also have a radio going with the Sox Playoff Game (if it’s not delayed)!

Previous post:

Next post: