General program information
What is the Bellingham Power Choice Program?
The Bellingham Power Choice program is a municipal electricity aggregation, a form of group electricity purchasing.
Typically, your electric utility, National Grid or Eversource, provides two sets of services to you:
- They deliver your electricity (Massachusetts electric utilities are electricity delivery companies only). Delivery services appear on your electricity bill as delivery charges.
- They also supply your electricity, which means they buy electricity for you and pass the cost along to you. The cost of the electricity they buy for you appears on your electricity bill as supply charges.
But in Massachusetts, there are actually three ways to purchase your electricity:
- Your utility can do it for you, as just described. This is called Basic Service, and this is how you buy your electricity when you first open your account.
- You can sign a contract with an electricity supplier yourself. You may have received offers in the mail or over the phone.
- Your municipal government can sign a contract with an electricity supplier on your behalf. This third option is municipal electricity aggregation, and this is what Bellingham Power Choice is. Bellingham has signed a contract with NextEra Energy.
If you participate in Bellingham Power Choice, Eversource delivers your electricity, but NextEra will appear on your electricity bill as your electricity supplier. Your utility will use the Bellingham Power Choice price to calculate the supply charges on your electricity bill instead their own Basic Service price.
Walpole Power Choice provides an alternative both to your utility’s Basic Service pricing and to other electricity supply offers in the marketplace.
Someone came to my door/called me about an electricity program. Do they represent National Grid, Eversource. or Bellingham Power Choice?
No. If you receive a personal call or visit about your electricity, that person does not represent the Town of Bellingham, National Grid, Eversource, or Bellingham Power Choice. Neither the utilities nor the Town is knocking on doors or making individual sales phone calls. Any communication is done by mail and will bear the Town seal or utility logo.
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 National Grid, Eversource, the Town of Bellingham, or Bellingham Power Choice.
- You should treat your electricity 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 feel a sales person has fraudulently identified themselves as working for a utility or the Town of Bellingham, please report it to the Department of Public Utilities Consumer Division 617-737-2836, or DPUConsumer.Complaints@state.ma.us.
How long will the program last?
As long as Bellingham decides it is providing value.
The contract with NextEra Energy runs through December 2022 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.
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.
Will I receive a lower quality of service from National Grid or Eversource 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.
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?
NextEra Energy is required to have tax exemption documentation on file for every electricity account that participates in Bellingham Power Choice and has tax-exempt status. Without that documentation on file, NextEra Energy may be required to charge tax on the account. They cannot obtain that documentation from National Grid or Eversource. They must obtain it from each customer directly.
If your account has tax exempt status, please submit your tax exemption documentation to NextEra Energy. Visit the Tax-exempt accounts page for information on where to send your documentation.
Is Bellingham the only community in Massachusetts with this kind of program?
No. Approximately half of the cities and towns in Massachusetts have electricity aggregation programs like Bellingham Power Choice.
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.
Electricity supply & electricity suppliers
What is electricity supply?
Electricity service has two parts: supply and delivery. Supply refers to the electricity itself. Delivery is the process of bringing that electricity to you over the wires.
With utility Basic Service, your electric utility (National Grid or Eversource) chooses your electricity supplier and delivers the electricity to you. With Bellingham Power Choice, your electric utility will continue to deliver your electricity, but Bellingham chooses its own supplier.
What is a competitive electricity supplier?
A competitive electricity supplier is not your electric utility. Electricity suppliers do not deliver your electricity. They buy it for you, and your electric utility delivers it.
A competitive electricity supplier is a company licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to purchase electricity and related services from the wholesale electricity markets for resale to retail electricity customers.
If you sign a private contract with an electricity supplier or you participate in a municipal program like Bellingham Power Choice, your electric utility will use your electricity supplier’s price to calculate the supply charges on your electricity bill instead of their own Basic Service price.
Who is the program's current electricity supplier?
From December 2020 until December 2022, the program’s electricity supplier is NextEra Energy.
Price, savings, & billing
What will my electricity supply price be if I participate in Bellingham Power Choice?
Your price will be determined by which program option you are enrolled in. Bellingham Power Choice has two options:
- Power Choice Standard: 10.755 cents/kWh
- Power Choice Green: 13.863 cents/kWh
See how the program will appear on your an example National Grid bill or an example Eversource bill.
How much will I save? Are savings guaranteed?
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 2022, while National Grid’s and Eversource’s 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.
Their future prices are not known.
As a result, the program price may not always be below your utility’s price.
Will I receive a second electricity 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. The program is integrated into your existing electricity bill.
See how the program will appear on an example National Grid bill or an example Eversource bill.
What if the National Grid / Eversource price falls below the Bellingham Power Choice price?
This is normal. 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. Typically, this happens during the summer months, but it could happen anytime.
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 with no penalty or fee.
I have solar panels on my property. If I join the program, will I continue to receive credits on my bill?
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.
Where do I see Bellingham Power Choice on my electricity bill?
The Bellingham Power Choice appears on your electricity bill in two ways:
- On the supply charge portion of your electricity bill, you will see Bellingham’s electricity listed as your electricity supplier instead of your utility’s Basic Service.
- The price that your utility uses to calculate your supply charges will be the Bellingham Power Choice price instead of their own Basic Service price.
See how the program will appear on an example National Grid bill or an example Eversource bill.
Additionally, the amount of renewable energy purchased on your behalf may change, depending on which program option you choose.
The program provides a stable electricity supply price. Why is that important?
The Bellingham Power Choice price is fixed until December 2022. Having a stable price for the supply part of your electricity bill can protect you from the seasonal price increases that occur when you have your utility’s Basic Service. When National Grid or Eversource is your electricity supplier and you have their Basic Service, the price they use to calculate the supply charges on your bill changes every 6 months for residential and other small customers, and it changes more frequently for larger commercial customers.
Having a stable price can also provide a predictable alternative to the variable prices offered by some commercial electricity supply offers. Some commercial electricity supply offers will provide a stable price for a few months, but then the price will vary monthly.
How do I know if I'm enrolled in the program and which option I'm enrolled in?
Check your most recently electricity bill. If you are enrolled in Bellingham Power Choice, your electricity supplier will be listed as NextEra Energy.
To check which program option you are enrolled in, look at the price that is used to calculate the supply charge portion of your bill. Compare it to the Bellingham Power Choice prices.
- If you are enrolled in Power Choice Standard, the price will be 10.755 cents/kWh ($0.10755/kWh).
- If you are enrolled in Power Choice Green, the price will be 13.863 cents/kWh ($0.13863/kWh).
Who is eligible to participate in Bellingham Power Choice?
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 within a few months of opening their electricity account.
I have signed my own contract with an electricity supplier. Can I participate?
Yes. 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.
Learn more about enrolling.
Do I have to participate? Can I leave the program?
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 contacting customer support.
How do I opt up to Power Choice Green or switch back to Power Choice Standard?
Utilities (National Grid & Eversource)
I am currently have my utility's budget billing. Will this change?
- 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.
I'm eligible for a low-income rate from National Grid / Eversource. Will this change?
No. You will continue to receive your low-income discount as a participant in Bellingham Power Choice.
What's the difference between my utility and an electricity supplier?
An electric utility like National Grid or Eversource is responsible primarily for delivering electricity to you, for maintaining the poles and wires, and for addressing power outages. Your utility charges you for these services on the delivery portion of your electricity bill.
An electricity supplier is a company that buys electricity for you from electricity generators or from electricity brokers. An electricity supplier can be National Grid or Eversource, or it can be a third-party company. If your supplier is a third-party company, it does not replace National Grid or Eversource as your electric utility.
- When your utility is also your electricity supplier (i.e., when you have National Grid’s or Eversource’s Basic Service), your electricity bill will indicate that is the case with the words “basic service.”
- You may also choose your own electricity supplier. If you do, the name of that company will appear on your electricity bill as your electricity supplier, and the price you negotiated with them will be used to calculate the supply charges on your bill.
- In Bellingham Power Choice, the Town chooses an electricity supplier on your behalf. Bellingham has signed a contract with NextEra Energy to supply electricity to the Town. NextEra will appear on your electricity bill as your electricity supplier, and your utility will use the price the Town has secured from with them to calculate the supply charges on your bill.
What is the minimum amount of renewable electricity required by state law?
The minimum amount increases every year. For 2021, Massachusetts state law requires that all electricity suppliers must buy a minimum of 18% of the electricity they supply from newer renewable energy projects in New England.
In addition, state law requires the purchase of a minimum amount of renewable energy from older renewable energy projects in New England, as well as from some other energy sources that are considered highly efficient but not renewable.
For more information, visit the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources page on compliance information for the Renewable Portfolio Standard.
Why should I opt up to Power Choice Green and receive 100% renewable electricity?
When you choose the Power Choice Green option, 100% of your electricity will be generated by clean, renewable sources, like the sun and the wind. Renewable energy does not create air pollution, and it does not emit the gases that cause climate change.
If you opt up to Power Choice Green, every time you pay your electric bill, you will make an investment in:
- Cleaner air and reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- Encouraging the development of new renewable energy projects in New England by creating additional demand for the electricity generated by those projects.
- Supporting local businesses and local jobs by buying electricity from New England-based projects.