General program information
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 businesses.
Under the program, Eversource will continue to deliver your electricity, but Eversource will no longer be your electricity supplier. Cambridge currently has a contract with Direct Energy to supply electricity from January 2021 through January 2024.
More than 140 other communities in Massachusetts have active aggregations.
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 unless they identify themselves as a volunteer. Volunteers are typically from the City’s local environmental partners, such as Mothers Out Front and Green Cambridge.
- 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. If you feel a sales person has fraudulently identified themselves as working for Eversource or the City, please report it to the Department of Public Utilities Consumer Division 617-737-2836, or DPUConsumer.Complaints@state.ma.us.
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.
How long will the program last? What will happen after January 2024?
Cambridge signed a contract with Direct Energy that will be in effect until January 2024 meter reads. At that point, Cambridge can establish a new electricity supply contract or end the program.
- If Cambridge signs a new contract, all active program participants will be automatically enrolled in the new contract.
- If Cambridge chooses instead to end the program, all active program participants will be automatically returned to Eversource’s Basic Service.
In either case, the City will make an announcement, and the transition will be seamless for program participants.
I have a tax-exempt account. How do I ensure my tax exempt status in the Cambridge Community Electricity Program?
Direct Energy is required to have tax exemption documentation on file for every electricity account that participates in the Cambridge Community Electricity Program and has tax exempt status. Without that documentation on file, Direct Energy may be required to charge tax on the account. They cannot obtain that documentation from Eversource. They must obtain it from each customer directly.
If your account has tax exempt status, please submit your tax exemption documentation to Direct Energy. Information about how to submit this documentation is available on the tax-exempt account page.
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 was generated by solar panels on City buildings in 2020. The City is also pursuing additional options to source up to 100% of its electricity from renewable resources in the next few years.
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.
Is Cambridge the only community in Massachusetts with this kind of program?
No. More than 140 communities in Massachusetts have active aggregations, and increasingly, Massachusetts communities are using aggregations to support renewable energy development in New England. Cambridge is the first community to use their aggregation to create a new solar project on behalf of its program participants.
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 Basic Service, your electric utility, Eversource, is your electricity supplier and also delivers the electricity to you.
With the Cambridge Community Electricity Program, Eversource will continue to deliver your electricity, but Cambridge chooses its own supplier.
What is an electricity supplier?
A competitive supplier is NOT your utility. A competitive supplier is a company licensed by the Department of Public Utilities
to purchase electricity and related services from the wholesale electricity markets for resale to retail customers. Typically, a
residential customer who buys electricity from a competitive supplier will see the charge as a line item on their electric
Learn more by downloading this brief, 2-slide presentation from the office of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey:
Who is the program's current electricity supplier?
From January 2021 until January 2024, the program’s electricity supplier is Direct Energy.
Price, savings, & billing
What will my electricity supply price be?
Are savings guaranteed?
No. The program price is guaranteed to be lower than Eversource’s Basic Service price only until the end of the current Eversource rate term. Eversource Basic Service prices fluctuate. The program goal is to deliver savings when compared with the average of Eversource’s changing prices over the contract period. Please note that savings will impact only the supply portion of your Eversource electricity bill. Eversource’s delivery charges will not be affected by this program.
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 Direct 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.
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.
What if Eversource's price falls below the program price?
The Cambridge program price is fixed until January 2024. Eversource’s Basic Service prices change every six months or less, depending on what kind of customer you are. Future prices are not known. As a result, it is likely that for some months, the Eversource price will fall below the program price. Savings cannot be guaranteed compared to Eversource’s Basic Service price.
You are free to opt out of the program at any time and return to Eversource’s 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 Supply portion of your Eversource bill.
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 to opt out before being enrolled, you will remain an Eversource Basic Service customer. If you choose to opt out after being enrolled, you will be returned to Eversource’s Basic Service.
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.
How do I join the program?
New Cambridge electricity accounts will be automatically enrolled in the program. You will receive a letter in the mail notifying you that are you slated for automatic enrollment unless you choose to opt out. You will have 30 days to opt out before being automatically enrolled. If you do not opt out, you will be enrolled with your first meter read after the end of that 30-day period.
If you do not have a new electricity account and you would like to join the program, you may do so by calling the program’s electricity supplier directly and asking to be enrolled.
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 choose an electricity supplier shortly after opening your Eversource electricity account, you will not be automatically enrolled in the Cambridge Community Electricity Program. But you are invited to participate. If you would like to participate, please contact customer support.
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.
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, contact customer support.
Is my electric utility changing?
No. Eversource will still be your electricity utility, and 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.
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's the difference between Eversource and an electricity supplier?
An electric utility like 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 a utility like Eversource, or it can be a third-party company. If your supplier is a third-party company, it does not replace Eversource as your electric utility.
- When your utility is also your electricity supplier (i.e., when you have 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 the Cambridge Community Electricity Program, the City chooses an electricity supplier on your behalf. Cambridge has signed a contract with Direct Energy to supply electricity to the City. Direct Energy will appear on your electricity bill as your electricity supplier, and Eversource will use the price the City has secured from with them to calculate the supply charges on your bill.
Why does the Cambridge Community Electricity program focus on building a new solar energy project?
One of Cambridge’s primary goals is to encourage the development of new renewable energy within or near Cambridge. For that reason, the Cambridge Community Electricity program will use funds collected through the program to build a new renewable energy project in Cambridge. That project will be a solar project because solar is the best local option for renewable energy due to our dense urban environment, which has limited space for wind turbines, hydro power, or other renewable energy sources. Once that new solar project is up and running, the Cambridge will assign the renewable energy certificates (RECs) that it produces to all program participants to make the electricity used by all program participants more renewable.
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. Cambridge’s program focuses on creating 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 Plus.
If you choose 100% Green Plus, then all of your electricity supply will come from local and regional renewable energy sources using Class I RECs (Massachusetts 100% Class I Recs) and you will receive additional solar electricity from the new Cambridge solar project once it is up and running. This option is opt-in. You may choose 100% Green Plus online or by calling customer support at 1-844-379-9934.
What is the state minimum required renewable energy? Do I receive the state minimum in the Cambridge Community Electricity Program?
The minimum amount of renewable energy required by the state increases every year. For 2020, the state requires that a minimum of 18% of your electricity be from renewable energy projects in New England (MA Class I RECs) in 2021. All electricity sold in the state must include this minimum amount.
As a participant in the Cambridge Community Electricity Program, you receive the state minimum and also you will receive additional renewable electricity over and above that minimum once the new solar project is built. If you enrolled in 100% Green Plus, you will receive 100% renewable electricity instead of the state minimum, including renewable electricity from the the new solar project once it is built.
What are Renewable Energy Certificates, also known as RECs?
Because we cannot direct electrons from a renewable energy project on one part of the grid to a customer on another, renewable energy certificates, or RECs, are used to track the generation and sale of renewable energy.
RECs are an accounting system. Each REC represents proof that 1 megawatt-hour of electricity was generated by a renewable energy resource. When you purchase RECs in addition to purchasing your electricity, it allows you to say that a portion, or all, of your electricity comes from the renewable energy projects that generated the electricity associated with each REC. The RECs that you purchase are then retired so no one else can claim to use the same renewable energy.
The money you use to purchase the RECs goes to support the renewable energy projects that generated them.
For more information about RECs, visit this page.
I am part of a green power program already. What does this mean for me?
If you have signed up for green electricity through the Green Energy Consumer’s Alliance (formerly the Mass Energy) or Mother’s Out Front, you can participate in the Cambridge Community Electricity program at the same time. Thanks to the Cambridge Community Electricity program, you’ll be able to directly support the development of a new solar project while continuing to support regional renewable energy through the Green Energy Consumer’s Alliance.
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 whether you participate in the program or you do not. Your net metering credits from your solar panels will appear on your Eversource bill and will be calculated based on Eversource’s Basic Service rate.