1. What is the Bellingham Power Choice Program?
National Grid and Eversource are the electricity utilities that serve Bellingham. They are responsible for electricity delivery in Bellingham. If you are like most electricity customers, your electric utility also chooses your electricity supplier and pass the cost of the electricity itself, known as electricity supply, along to you. 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 a town selects an electricity supplier on behalf of its residents and businesses. The goal is to negotiate the best price possible for everyone for the electricity supply portion of their electric bill.
Bellingham has chosen NextEra Energy Services as the Town’s electricity supplier. Your utility, either National Grid or Eversource, will continue to deliver your electricity, but NextEra Energy Services will supply it.
2. What will my electricity supply price be?
The program offers two options:
- Power Choice Standard is 8.680 ¢/kWh for all customers/rate classes. This option meets minimum state renewable energy requirements, just like Basic Service. Beginning with March 2017 meter reads, National Grid and Eversource Basic Service customers will be automatically enrolled in Power Choice Standard.
- Power Choice Green is 9.232 ¢/kWh for all customers/rate classes. This option provides 100% green energy, including 20% renewable energy from new New England renewable energy projects (new means they came into operation after 1997) in addition to the 12% required by Massachusetts law. You may select Power Choice Green by calling NextEra at 1-855-419-5465.
3. How much will I save?
The program goal is savings, but savings cannot be predicted or guaranteed. The program price is fixed for 9 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?
Bellingham has signed a 9-month contract with NextEra Energy Services. The contract price will be in effect from March 2017 meter reads until December 2017 meter reads. Bellingham can then establish a new electricity supply contract or end the program and return participants to Basic Service.
5. What will change with this program?
You will see two changes beginning with your April 2017, electric bill:
- Your electricity supply price will change to the program price.
- You will see NextEra Energy Services listed instead of National Grid or Eversource Basic Service on the Supplier Services portion of your bill.
Everything else will remain the same. You will continue to receive your bill from National Grid or Eversource, pay National Grid or Eversource, and call National Grid or Eversource 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 National Grid and Eversource Basic Service customers will be automatically enrolled with their March 2017 meter read.
7. I have signed my own contract with an electricity supplier. Will I be enrolled in the program?
No. If you have already signed a contract with an electricity supplier, you will not automatically be enrolled in Bellingham Power Choice.
However, you are welcome to participate.
If you would like 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 participate in the program, call NextEra Energy Services at 1-855-419-5465.
8. Do I have to participate?
No. You may choose not to participate. 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 continue to receive electricity through your current utility provider.
You may opt out at any time by calling NextEra Energy Services at 1-855-419-5465 or opting out 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 9 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 delivery 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 creating this kind of program?
No. Municipal electricity aggregation has been building momentum across Massachusetts. Bellingham will be joining more than 70 other Massachusetts communities that already have active aggregations.