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.
2. What will my electricity supply price be?
The program offers two options, each with a different price:
- Power Choice Standard is 11.24 ¢/kWh for all customers/rate classes. This offering meets minimum state renewable energy requirements, just like Basic Service, and is the default program offering. New National Grid and Eversource Basic Service customers in Bellingham are automatically enrolled in Power Choice Standard.
- Power Choice Green is 11.51 ¢/kWh for all customers/rate classes. This offering is an option that provides 100% renewable electricity, with a focus on renewable electricity generated in New England.
3. How much will I save?
The program has the potential offer a lower price than your utility’s Basic Service price, but savings cannot be predicted or guaranteed. The program price is fixed until December 2020, 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. Future prices cannot be known. As a result, the program price may not always be below your utility’s price.
4. How long will the program last?
As long as Bellingham decides it is providing value. The contract with Direct Energy runs through December 2020 meter reads. When that contract ends, Bellingham can either sign a new electricity supply contract and extend the program, or end the program. While the Town’s intention is to continue the program, if the Town decides to end the program, the Town will make an announcement, and all active participants will be seamlessly transitioned to their utility’s Basic Service offering.
5. 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.
6. 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 the program electricity supplier, Direct Energy, at 1-866-968-8065 and ask to be enrolled in the Bellingham Power Choice program.
7. 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 online or by calling the program’s electricity supplier, Direct Energy, at 1-866-968-8065.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. What if the National Grid/Eversource price falls below the program price?
National Grid and Eversource Basic Service prices change every six months or less, depending on what kind of customer you are, while the program price is typically fixed for a longer period of time. As a result, it is likely that for some months, the Basic Service price for your utility will fall below the program price.
If you ever wish to leave the program, you are free to opt out of the program and return to your utility’s Basic Service.
12. 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.
I have a tax exempt account. How can I retain my account's tax-exempt status and where do I send my tax exemption documentation?
Taxes will be billed as part of the program’s power supply charge. Customers are responsible for identifying and requesting an exemption from the collection of any tax by providing appropriate tax exemption documentation to Direct Energy. To put it simply, if you do not submit your tax exemption documentation, you will be assessed sales tax on your electricity account.
Please note: You previously may have submitted a tax exemption form to National Grid or Eversource, but your utility does not share these records with Direct Energy, and Direct Energy is required to retain proof of exemption for each tax exempt account.
For your convenience, tax exemption forms can be found on the Massachusetts Department of Revenue website. Please complete both the front and back of the applicable form and return to Direct Energy through one of the following channels with a copy to the Town’s program consultants:
To Direct Energy
With a copy to the Town’s program consultants:
- Via email: email@example.com
- Via US mail: MassPowerChoice, 85 Merrimac Street, Boston, MA 02114
13. 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.
14. Is Bellingham the only community in Massachusetts with this kind of program?
No. Municipal electricity aggregation has been building momentum across Massachusetts. More than 140 communities in Massachusetts are now pursuing electricity aggregation.
15. Do I need to do anything when Bellingham is changing to a new electricity supplier?
No. If you are an active program participant, your account will be automatically enrolled into the new electricity supply contract, and you will be enrolled in your current program option.
If you previously opted out of the program, you will remain opted out. You do not need to opt out again. However, if you would like to enroll in the program with the new contract, you may do so. Please contact customer support for more information.