Community Choice Energy Boston - Questions and Answers

What is Community Choice Energy?

Massachusetts state law allows any city or town to choose the electricity supplier for all its residents and businesses. This way, we can make important energy decisions instead of for-profit utilities and their competitors.

Will I pay more?

Our goal is to get you 5 - 10% more renewable energy with little or no raise in cost. In the longer term, our goal is to create a path for 100% of Bostonians' energy to be renewable, without raising costs significantly for residents.

Will this stabilize my electric bill?

Yes. The electric utilities change their prices every six months and we’ve seen some big price spikes, especially in winter. Community Choice Energy will give us a longer-term contract with electricity suppliers.

What would community choice energy do for environmental justice?

In Massachusetts, poor communities bear the brunt of fossil fuel pollution and get few of its economic benefits. White and affluent homeowners can install solar panels or buy renewable energy, but poor communities have a much harder time getting solar power and cutting their electric bills. Meanwhile, poor communities suffer the worst impacts from air pollution, high summer heat without air conditioning, and public transit disruptions due to severe weather.

Will it clean up the air?

Yes. More renewable energy means less air pollution coming from power plants fueled with gas, oil, and diesel -- and so less smog and asthma.

Will it help fight climate change?

Yes. Community Choice Energy is the fastest single way of reaching Boston’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Who will be my electric company?

Eversource will still deliver your electricity and send you bills. Community Choice Energy only changes the generators – the power plants, windmills, and solar arrays that produce your electricity.

Will I be able to keep my current plan?

Yes! No one is locked into the Community Choice Energy plan. If you currently have a competitive supplier you can keep that supplier as long as you like. If you have Eversource as your supplier, you can opt out of Community Choice Energy or choose another competitive supplier.

How does Community Choice Energy work?

Once the City Council issues a Community Choice Energy authorization, the City chooses an energy broker, a company that buys energy on the wholesale market. The broker prepares a proposal that buys more renewable power while adding little or no cost to us customers. If the City likes the plan, it can accept the plan. Or it can reject the plan at no cost to the City or us.

Is this the same as Community Choice Aggregation?

Yes. It’s also known as municipal aggregation.

Is anyone else doing this?

The oldest and largest municipal aggregation project in Massachusetts is the Cape Light Compact, which buys electricity and runs energy efficiency programs for all the towns on Cape Cod plus Martha's Vineyard. Melrose, Dedham, Brookline, Somerville, Cambridge, Arlington, Gloucester and many other towns have also approved municipal aggregation.

Will this create more solar and wind power in New England?

Yes. Class I renewable energy generators have to be located in New England. Buying power from them supplies the money they need to finance new projects. Our renewable energy purchases will shift the whole regional grid away from fossil fuels.

Isn’t my utility already buying green energy?

Yes. The Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires utilities to buy 12% of their energy from qualifying "Class I renewables" in 2017, plus another 1% per year after that. By 2020 we will reach 15% and by 2050 utilities will have to get about 45% of their energy through renewable resources. Sounds great, but it’s too slow to meet the challenge we face from climate change. With Community Choice Energy, Boston can jump years ahead of state law and send policymakers a message that the state’s RPS is too slow.

Will this affect the utility companies' profit margins?

No. Eversource earns its money on the transmission and delivery only, not on the power generation, so utility jobs should not be affected.

Will buying more solar cause brownouts on cloudy days?

No. The grid is able to sustain a much higher percentage of renewable sources than it currently delivers. We could reasonably double the amount of solar currently powering our grid without running into trouble.