1. What is the Bellingham Power Choice Program?
National Grid and Eversource deliver electricity to Bellingham. They also typically act as your electricity supplier by purchasing electricity for you (known as electricity supply). This is called Basic Service.
The Bellingham Power Choice program is an alternative to Basic Service called electricity aggregation. Electricity aggregation is a form of group purchasing in which the electric utilities continue to deliver electricity to Bellingham, but the Town selects its own electricity supplier.
The program launched in March 2017. At the end of the Town’s initial 9-month contract with NextEra Energy Services, Bellingham signed a 12-month contract with Agera Energy to serve as the Town’s electricity supplier. That means National Grid and Eversource deliver electricity to Bellingham, but Agera Energy will supply it from December 2017 – December 2018.
Active program participants will be automatically enrolled into the new contract with Agera Energy when it takes effect in December 2017.
2. What will my electricity supply price be?
The program offers two options. The price for each under the Agera Energy contract is:
- Power Choice Standard is 11.50 ¢/kWh for all customers/rate classes. This option meets minimum state renewable energy requirements, just like Basic Service. New National Grid and Eversource Basic Service customers in Bellingham are automatically enrolled in Power Choice Standard.
- Power Choice Green is 11.52 ¢/kWh for all customers/rate classes. This option provides 100% green energy, and includes 33% from new renewable energy projects in New England. You may select Power Choice Green by calling Agera Energy at 1-855-973-2788.
3. How much will I save?
The program goal is savings, but savings cannot be predicted or guaranteed. The program price is fixed for 12 months, while National Grid and Eversource fixed Basic Service prices change every six months for residential and small business customers and every three months for medium and large business/industrial customers. The program price may not always be below your utility’s price. The program goal is to deliver savings when compared with the average of National Grid’s and Eversource’s changing rates. Savings will apply only to the supply portion of your bill. The delivery charges will be unaffected.
4. How long will the program last?
As long as Bellingham decides it is providing value. The contract with Agera Energy runs through December 2018 meter reads. Bellingham can then establish a new electricity supply contract, or end the program and return participants to Basic Service.
5. How does the new contract with Agera Energy impact my bill?
Program participants will see the following with their January 2018 electricity bill:
- The price used to calculate the supply part of your bill will change to the Agera Energy price.
- Agera Energy will be listed as your electricity supplier.
Everything else will be the same. You will receive your bill from and pay your electric utility (National Grid or Eversource). You will call your electric utility when your power goes out.
6. Who is eligible to participate?
All metered electricity customers within the geographic boundaries of Bellingham are eligible to participate. All new National Grid and Eversource Basic Service customers in Bellingham are automatically enrolled.
7. I have signed my own contract with an electricity supplier. Can I particpate?
If you have already signed a contract with an electricity supplier, you will not automatically be enrolled in the program, but you are invited to participate.
We recommend that you first check the terms of your existing electricity supply contract. Many include minimum enrollment periods and early termination fees.
To join the program, call Agera Energy at 1-855-973-2788.
8. Do I have to participate? / Am I locked in?
You may choose not to participate, and you may leave the program after you join. This is called opting out.
There is no penalty for opting out. You may do so at any time.
If you opt out, you will be placed on Basic Service with your utility.
You may opt out at any time by calling Agera Energy at 1-855-973-2788 or online.
9. Who do I call when the power goes out?
National Grid customers: Call National Grid as always. National Grid will continue to deliver your electricity and maintain the poles and wires.
Eversource customers: Call Eversource as always. Eversource will continue to deliver your electricity and maintain the poles and wires.
10. Will I receive a second bill?
No. Your utility (National Grid or Eversource) will continue to bill you for your electricity. This is the only electricity bill you will receive as a participant in Bellingham Power Choice.
11. Will I receive a lower quality of service from my utility provider if I participate in this program?
No. The quality of service to you will be unaffected by your participation in Bellingham Power Choice. The reason is because the utility does not profit from the supply charges on your electric bill. They pass the electricity supply charges along to you with no markup. They make their profit from the distribution charges. As a result, they have no preference whether they choose your supplier or Bellingham does.
12. What if the National Grid/Eversource price falls below the program price?
The program price is fixed for 12 months. National Grid and Eversource Basic Service prices change every six months or less, depending on what kind of customer you are. As a result, it is likely that for some months, the Basic Service price for your utility will fall below the program price. The program goal is to beat the average of the changing Basic Service prices.
If the Basic Service price does fall below the program price, you are free to opt out of the program and return to Basic Service.
13. I am currently under my utility's budget billing/eligible for the low-income rate. Will this change?
For budget billing:
- National Grid customers will retain budget billing on both supply and delivery charges if they participate in Bellingham Power Choice.
- Eversource customers will lose budget billing on supply charges as a participant in Bellingham Power Choice, but budget billing will continue on delivery charges.
For low-income discount customers:
Both National Grid and Eversource customers that receive the low-income discount will continue to receive that discount as a participant in Bellingham Power Choice. The discount will be unaffected by your participation in the program.
14. I have solar panels on my property. If I join the program, will I continue to receive net metering credits?
Yes. Net metering will work the same way if you participate in the program. Your net metering credits from your solar panels will continue to appear on your National Grid or Eversource bill and will continue to be calculated based on your utility’s Basic Service price.
15. Is Bellingham the only community in Massachusetts with this kind of program?
No. Municipal electricity aggregation has been building momentum across Massachusetts. More than 120 communities in Massachusetts are now pursuing electricity aggregation.