What is the Cambridge Community Electricity program?
Cambridge Community Electricity (CCE) is a Community Choice, or municipal aggregation program. Your electricity bill has two major parts: distribution and supply. Currently, Eversource delivers your electricity over the power lines and also acts as your supplier (they buy electricity for you). Through aggregation programs, which are approved by the state, the City uses the bulk buying power of the entire community to negotiate a price for the Supplier Services on behalf of Cambridge residents and small businesses.
Under the program, Eversource will continue to deliver your electricity, but Eversource will no longer be your electricity supplier. Cambridge has signed an 18-month contract with Agera Energy to supply electricity from July 2017 through January 2019.
More than 95 communities in Massachusetts have active aggregations, including Lowell, Salem, New Bedford, and Pittsfield. Many other communities in the process of developing aggregations include Somerville, Arlington, Brookline, Lexington, and Acton.
Someone came to my door/called me about an electricity program? Is that the City program?
If you receive a personal call or visit about your electricity, that person does not represent the City of Cambridge or the Cambridge Community Electricity Program. The City is not knocking on doors or making individual sales phone calls. The City sends a single letter to residents and businesses eligible for automatic enrollment with detailed program information. That letter includes the City seal in the header and City Manager Louis DePasquale’s name at the end.
If you receive a call or a visit from someone who wants to discuss your electricity, here are three things to keep in mind:
- The person you are speaking with is not associated with the City of Cambridge or the Cambridge Community Electricity program.
- You should treat your Eversource account number like you treat your credit card information. Do not give it out unless you want to purchase your electricity from someone else.
- You do have the right to select an electricity supplier of your choice. If you choose to explore this option, please check the terms of the agreement carefully. Things to check for include: minimum bill amounts, contract length requirements, early termination fees, low introductory rates that change after the introductory period ends, and rates that vary.
If you have further questions regarding door-to-door solicitations, please contact the Cambridge Consumers Council at 617-349-6152.
What are Cambridge's goals for the Cambridge Community Electricity program?
The goal of the program is to provide electricity supply with more, new renewable energy to Cambridge residents and businesses at a price that is lower than or equal to the Eversource Basic Service supply rate.
What will my electricity supply price be?
The program offers two alternatives to Eversource Basic Service:
Standard Green is 10.486 ¢/kWh for all customers/rate classes. This choice includes 25% more solar energy than required by the state, and that additional solar energy will come from renewable energy projects in or near Cambridge. New Eversource Basic Service customers will be automatically enrolled in Standard Green unless they choose 100% Green or opt out of the program .
100% Green is 12.180 ¢/kWh for all customers/rate classes. This choice provides 100% renewable energy, all from projects in New England. You may select 100% Green by calling Agera Energy at 1-888-589-7790.
Are savings guaranteed?
No. The program price is guaranteed to be lower than Eversource only until the end of the current Eversource rate term. Eversource Basic Service prices fluctuate. The current Eversource Basic Service rate is 10.759 ¢/kWh, and the Eversource rate will next change on January 1, 2018, for residential and small business accounts. The program goal is to deliver savings when compared with the average of Eversource’s changing prices over the 18 month contract period. Please note that savings will impact only the Supplier Services portion of your Eversource electric bill. Eversource’s delivery charges will not be affected by this program.
How long will the program last? What will happen after January 2019?
Cambridge has signed a contract with Agera Energy, which will be in effect from July 2017 meter reads until January 2019 meter reads. At that point, Cambridge can establish a new electricity supply contract or end the program and return participants to Eversource Basic Service.
What will change on my bill with this program?
The program will impact only the supply portion of your Eversource bill. The delivery portion of your Eversource bill will not be impacted by this program.
You will see two changes on your Eversource electric bill beginning with the month after your enrollment in the program:
- Your electricity supply price will change to the Cambridge Community Electricity program rate.
- You will see Agera Energy listed instead of Basic Service on the Supplier Services portion of your bill.
You can see what these changes will look like by downloading a sample Eversource bill here.
Is my electric utility changing?
No. Eversource will still be your electricity utility. You will see Agera Energy and the program price under Supply Services on your Eversource bill. However, your primary relationship for electricity will continue to be with Eversource:
- Your bill will continue to come from Eversource
- You will continue to send bill payments to Eversource
- You will continue to call Eversource if your power goes out
- If you are eligible for a low-income delivery rate or fuel assistance, you will continue to receive those benefits.
Do I have to participate in the Cambridge Community Electricity program?
No. There is no penalty or fee to opt out of the program, and you may opt out at any time. If you choose not to participate, you will remain an Eversource Basic Service customer. To opt out, do one of the following:
- Call Agera Energy at 1-888-589-7790.
- Opt out online.
Why does the Cambridge Community Electricity program focus only on increasing the amount of solar energy?
One of Cambridge’s primary goals is to encourage the development of more, new renewable energy within or near Cambridge. Solar is the best local option for renewable energy because of our dense urban environment which has limited space for wind turbines, hydro power, or other renewable energy sources. The Cambridge Community Electricity program is purchasing Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) from projects in or near Cambridge, vs. a mix of renewable energy sources (“Class 1” RECs), which could come from anywhere in New England. The purchase of local SRECs will create demand for local solar projects so that more are likely to be built here in the future.
Since SRECs are more expensive than Class I RECs, the program is purchasing fewer SRECs than some communities’ purchase of Class I RECs in order to meet our local renewable energy development goals and to keep the cost of the program affordable.
Why isn't the standard Cambridge Community Electricity offering 100% renewable energy?
Meeting 100% of the electricity demand with either local SRECs or Class 1 RECs would significantly increase the cost of electricity. In order to offer 100% renewable energy at a similar price to Basic Service, communities would have to purchase inexpensive RECs from out of region projects such as Texas wind farms. Because these projects have been operating for a long time and would have been built regardless of whether the RECs were sold, they don’t meet the standard that Cambridge is pursuing to result in more, new local renewable energy development.
I want 100% renewable energy. How do I get this?
The Cambridge Community Electricity program offers two options for Cambridge electricity customers: Standard Green and 100% Green. If you choose 100% Green, then all of your electricity supply will come from local and regional renewable energy sources using a combination of SRECs and Class I RECs. This option is opt-in, so if you want 100% Green then call Agera Energy at 1-888-589-7790. This option will increase your electricity rate.
I am part of a green power program already. What does this mean for me?
If you have signed up for green electricity through Mass Energy Consumer’s Alliance or Mother’s Out Front, you can participate in the Cambridge Community Electricity program along with Mass Energy. Thanks to the Cambridge Community Electricity program, you’ll be getting more solar as part of your electricity supply at no additional cost, and can continue to support renewable energy through Mass Energy.
If you have signed up for a different electricity supplier, you can choose either to stick with that supplier by opting out of the Cambridge Community Electricity program, or switch over to the Cambridge Community Electricity program. You can see how much renewable energy you are receiving and where it comes from by looking at the energy disclosure label for your supply. For information about other suppliers, see http://www.mass.gov/eea/energy-utilities-clean-tech/electric-power/electric-market-info/choose-supplier.html. For help with this decision, contact the consultants hired by the City to answer questions about this program at 1-844-379-9934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have solar panels. What does this mean for me?
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 Eversource bill and will continue to be calculated based on Eversource’s Basic Service rate.
Why is the program an automatic enrollment program?
Massachusetts law requires that all municipal electricity aggregations operate under an automatic enrollment model. Cambridge did not have a choice with this aspect of the aggregation. All aggregations in Massachusetts must operate under an automatic enrollment model.
Is the City's municipal electricity supply part of this aggregation?
No, but Cambridge is working towards supplying its electricity from renewable energy as well. Over 5% of the municipal electricity supply will be generated by solar panels on City buildings by 2020. The City is also researching additional options to source up to 100% of its electricity from renewable resources in the next few years.
How do I join the program?
Accounts on Eversource Basic Service will be automatically enrolled in the program.
If you already have an agreement with an electricity supplier, you will not be automatically enrolled in the program. However, you can join the program by calling Agera Energy at 1-888-589-7790 and asking to be enrolled.
- If you wish to wait until the end of your current electricity supply contract and then join the program, you may do so. You will receive the program price whenever you join.
Before you terminate an existing contract with an electricity supplier, we recommend that you check the terms of your contract. Many include minimum enrollment periods and early termination fees.
I have signed my own contract with an electricity supplier. Can I participate?
If you have already chosen an electricity supplier, you will not be automatically enrolled, but you are invited to participate. If you would like to participate, you can call Agera Energy directly at 1-888-589-7790 and ask to be enrolled.
Before calling, we recommend that you first check the terms of your existing electricity supply contract. Many include minimum enrollment periods and early termination fees.
Who do I call when the power goes out?
Call Eversource if your power goes out, as always. Eversource will continue to deliver your electricity and maintain the poles and wires.
Will I receive a second bill?
No. Eversource will continue to bill you for your electricity, and this is the only electricity bill you will receive as a participant in this program.
Will Eversource provide me with a lower quality of service because I participate in this program?
No. Eversource’s quality of service will not be affected by your participation in the program. Eversource does not profit from the supply charges on your electric bill. They make their profit from delivery charges. As a result, they have no preference whether they choose your supplier or Cambridge does.
What if Eversource's price falls below the program price?
The program price is fixed until January 2019. 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 Eversource price will fall below the program price. The program goal is to beat the average of the changing Eversource prices.
If the Eversource price does fall below the program price, you are free to opt out of the program and return to Eversource Basic Service.
I am currently eligible for the low-income delivery rate from Eversource. Will this change?
No. If you are eligible for a low-income discount from Eversource, it will be unaffected by your participation in the program.
I have budget billing from Eversource. Will this change?
Yes. If you participate in the Cambridge Community Electricity program, budget billing will no longer apply to the supplier services portion of your Eversource bill.
Will I be enrolled if I am on Eversource's Do Not Call list?
No. If you have added your name to Eversource’s Do Not Call list, your account will not receive any mailings about the program, and your account will not be automatically enrolled. But you may participate if you wish. To participate, call Agera Energy at 1-888-589-7790 and ask to be enrolled.
Is Cambridge the only community in Massachusetts creating this kind of program?
No. More than 95 communities in Massachusetts have active aggregations, including Lowell, Salem, New Bedford, and Pittsfield. Many other communities in the process of developing aggregations include Somerville, Arlington, Brookline, Lexington, and Acton.