What is Chelsea Electricity Choice?
Chelsea Electricity Choice is a municipal electricity aggregation, which is a form of group electricity purchasing.
Typically, your electric utility, Eversource, provides two sets of services to you:
- They deliver your electricity. Delivery services appear on your 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 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 most people buy their electricity.
- 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 Chelsea Electricity Choice is.
Learn more about how aggregation works.
What gives Chelsea the authority to launch an aggregation?
Municipal electricity aggregation was enabled by the Massachusetts Restructuring Act of 1997 (Chapter 164, Section 134), which allows local municipal governments to aggregate the electricity supply loads of the electricity consumers within their geographic boundaries in order to negotiate more favorable terms with an electricity supplier.
Municipal aggregations are subject to oversight by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, and Chelsea’s aggregation plan is subject to a regulatory review and approval process before the City will be authorized to implement the program. (Learn more about Chelsea’s implementation process.)
More than 40% of Massachusetts communities have already launched electricity aggregations.
Why is Chelsea launching this program?
The primary goal of Chelsea Electricity Choice is to provide a City alternative to other electricity offers, but without high pressure or fees of those other offers. Through the program, Chelsea Electricity Choice will aim to increase the amount of renewable energy in the community’s electricity supply while providing electricity price stability and consumer protections, all at a competitive price. (While Chelsea Electricity Choice offers the potential for savings when compared with Eversource’s Basic Service price, Chelsea Electricity Choice cannot guarantee savings.)
Massachusetts state law already requires that a minimum amount of renewable energy be included in all the electricity sold in the state. The default option in Chelsea Electricity Choice will include additional renewable energy over and above the state required minimum.
Chelsea Electricity Choice will also offer the option to choose 100% renewable electricity and the ability to participate in the program in a budget option that offers no renewable energy beyond the minimum amount required by state law.
How will I benefit from Chelsea Electricity Choice?
With Chelsea Electricity Choice, the City will use the bulk buying power of the community to provide you with new electricity choices that will give you greater control over the environmental characteristics and price of your electricity supply.
- Cleaner electricity – Chelsea Electricity Choice participants will automatically receive more renewable electricity than is required by state law. (The standard amount is still to be determined, depending in part on electricity prices at the time the City enters into a contract with an electricity supplier). Or you can choose to opt up to 100% renewable electricity or opt down to receive no additional renewable electricity but retain the program benefits of price stability and consumer protections.
- Price stability – The program will provide a fixed price for electricity supply over a long period of time. This will make the program different from Eversource’s Basic Service, where the price changes every six months or less, and from many commercial offers in the market place.
- Consumer protections – Chelsea Electricity Choice will provide a trustworthy, City-vetted alternative to other electricity supply offers in the marketplace. The program will include consumer protections, such as no hidden fees and the ability to opt out of the program at any time with no penalty.
Is Chelsea the only community in Massachusetts that is implementing an aggregation?
No. Municipal electricity aggregation has been building momentum across Massachusetts. Chelsea is joining more than 140 other Massachusetts communities that already have aggregations. Increasingly, communities are implementing “green” aggregations like the Chelsea’s program will be, which increase the amount of renewable electricity in the community’s electricity supply beyond the minimum amount required by state law.
What will change for me with Chelsea Electricity Choice?
You will see two key changes as a result of participating in Chelsea Electricity Choice:
- On the Supply portion of your Eversource electricity bill, you will see the Chelsea Electricity Choice electricity supplier listed instead of Eversource’s Basic Service. Chelsea will choose its supplier through a competitive procurement process after the Chelsea Electricity Choice aggregation plan receives regulatory approval.
- Eversource will use the Chelsea Electricity Choice price to calculate the supply charges on your bill instead of their own Basic Service price.
See an example Eversource bill.
Additionally, the amount of renewable energy that you receive may change, depending on which program option you choose.
Otherwise, everything else will remain the same. You will continue to receive your bill from Eversource, you will continue to pay Eversource, and you will continue to call Eversource if your power goes out.
If you are eligible for any discounts from Eversource, those discounts will be unaffected by your participation in Chelsea Electricity Choice.
I received a call/visit/letter in the mail about my electricity bill. Is it from the City, this program, or Eversource?
No. The City of Chelsea will send a letter to electricity accounts that are eligible for automatic enrollment after Chelsea’s aggregation plan receives regulatory approval. That letter has not been mailed. It will arrive in an envelope bearing the City seal, and the letter itself will also bear the City seal. The letter will not ask for additional information. If your account is eligible to be automatically enrolled, as will be the case for most Chelsea electricity customers, you will not need to provide any additional information.
Please note: Eversource, the City of Chelsea, and the Chelsea Electricity Choice do not make sales calls or visits to your home.
Any person or company who asks for additional information when they market their program (such as the account number on your electrical bill) to you does not represent Chelsea Electricity Choice or Eversource.
If you receive a letter that does not include the City seal, it is not from the City and does not represent Chelsea Electricity Choice. If you want to confirm whether you have received a legitimate City communication, you can contact customer support with Chelsea’s consultants.
If you receive a call or a visit from someone who wants to discuss your electricity, keep these two things in mind:
- You should treat your Eversource 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, but are not limited to: minimum bill amounts, contract length requirements, early termination fees, low introductory rates that change after the introductory period ends, and rates that vary.
Does Chelsea Electricity Choice replace Eversource as my electric utility?
No. Eversource will remain the electric utility for Chelsea and will continue to deliver your electricity, and your primary relationship for electricity will remain with Eversource.
Chelsea Electricity Choice will change the supplier on your Eversource electricity bill, and it will change the price that Eversource uses to calculate the supply portion of your electricity bill. But your electricity bill will continue to come from Eversource, and Eversource will continue to be your electric utility. (See an example Eversource bill.)
How long will Chelsea Electricity Choice last?
The program will last as long as Chelsea believes it is providing value for the community. Chelsea will sign an initial contract with an electricity supplier when the program launches. At the end of that contract, Chelsea can decide whether to continue the program or discontinue it and return all participants to Eversource’s Basic Service.
Will I receive a second electricity bill if I participate in Chelsea Electricity Choice?
No. Eversource will continue to bill you for both electricity supply and delivery services, and this is the only electricity bill you will receive as a participant in the program.
See an example Eversource bill
Who do I call if the power goes out?
Call Eversource if your power goes out, as always. Eversource will continue to deliver your electricity and maintain the polls and wires, and will remain responsible for addressing power outages.
Will Eversource provide me with a lower quality of service if I participate in Chelsea Electricity Choice?
No. Eversource’s quality of service to you will be unaffected by your participation in Chelsea Electricity Choice. 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 Chelsea does.
I have solar panels on my property or participate in a community solar program. Will I continue to receive net metering credits?
Yes. Net metering credits will work the same way if you participate in the program. Your credits will continue to appear on your Eversource bill and will continue to be calculated based on Eversource’s Basic Service price, not the Chelsea Electricity Choice price.
How do I maintain my account's tax-exempt status if I participate in Chelsea Electricity Choice?
Tax exempt accounts that wish to maintain their tax exempt status in Chelsea Electricity Choice must submit tax exemption documentation to the program’s electricity supplier.
This means that tax exemption documentation must be submitted each time the program’s electricity supplier changes.
The program’s electricity supplier is required by the State of Massachusetts to have valid tax exemption documentation on hand for all tax exempt accounts.
You may have submitted tax exemption documentation to Eversource already, but Eversource does not share this documentation with the program’s electricity supplier. It is the customer’s responsibility to submit this documentation.
More information about where to send your tax exemption documentation will be available closer to program launch.
Enrolling & participating
Do I have to participate?
No. While the program has an automatic enrollment model in accordance with state law, participation is not required. There is no penalty for opting out. You may do so at any time. If you receive a letter notifying you that your account will be automatically enrolled, you may opt out of the program before being automatically enrolled, and you may also opt out any time after enrollment. If you opt out, the supply portion of your electricity bill will remain on Eversource’s Basic Service rate.
How do I join Chelsea Electricity Choice?
Most electricity accounts in Chelsea will be automatically enrolled when the program launches.
Specifically, all electricity accounts on Eversource’s Basic Service will be automatically enrolled at launch, unless they opt out.
If you have a contract with an electricity supplier at the time the program launches, your account will not be automatically enrolled, but you can choose to enroll, and the enrollment process will be easy. Please be aware that your electricity supplier may charge early termination fees, so you should carefully review your current contract terms and conditions before making that decision.
More information about enrollment will be available after Chelsea’s aggregation plan receives regulatory approval.
Can I opt out and then re-enroll?
Yes, however if you opt out of the program and want to rejoin during the same electricity supply contract, you will not be guaranteed the program price for the remainder of the current aggregation contract.
Once/if Chelsea signs a new contract, however, you will be enrolled at the newly negotiated aggregation price. Remember that you are free to leave the program at any time and return to Eversource’s Basic Service.
Will Chelsea Electricity Choice provide savings compared with Eversource?
Chelsea Electricity Choice will offer the potential for savings compared with Eversource’s Basic Service price, and it is the City’s aim to provide a price that is competitive with Eversource’s average price. However, Eversource’s prices change every 6 months for residential and small commercial accounts and every 3 months for large commercial accounts, and future prices are not known. As a result, Chelsea Electricity Choice cannot guarantee to provide savings.
Will I know the program price and the price of each program option before I am enrolled?
Yes. If you are an Eversource Basic Service customer and eligible for automatic enrollment in Chelsea Electricity Choice, you will receive a letter in the mail with program information, including pricing, before you are enrolled.
Note that although at that point you will know the program pricing, you cannot know the Eversource Basic Service price beyond Eversource’s current 6-month (or for industrial accounts, 3-month) pricing period.
What will my electricity supply price be if I participate in Chelsea Electricity Choice?
Chelsea Electricity Choice anticipates having three options, but we do not yet know the prices for the different options in the program. The prices will be determined when the City signs a contract with an electricity supplier. That contract will be signed after a competitive procurement process, which will occur after the state regulatory review and approval process for the Chelsea Electricity Choice aggregation plan has been completed.
Why is a stable electricity supply price important?
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 Eversource’s Basic Service. When you have Eversource’s Basic Service, the price that is used to calculate the supply charges on your electricity bill changes every 6 months for residential and small commercial customers, and every 3 months for large commercial customers, often rising in the winter.
Having a stable price for the supply part of your electricity bill 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 and will rise significantly.
The Chelsea Electricity Choice price will be fixed for longer than 6 months, and when it changes, the City will announce the new price publicly before it takes effect.
However, because Eversource’s prices change and future prices are not known, Chelsea Electricity Choice cannot guarantee to provide savings compared with Eversource’s Basic Service.
What if Eversource's price falls below the Chelsea Electricity Choice price?
The Chelsea Electricity Choice price will be a long-term price, while Eversource’s Basic Service price changes every 6 months for residential and small business customers and every 3 months for large business customers. As a result, it is likely that for some months, the Eversource price may fall below the Chelsea Electricity Choice price. Chelsea Electricity Choice cannot guarantee that it will beat Eversource’s Basic Service price at all times. The program aims to match or beat the average of the changing Eversource prices, although there is no guarantee that it will do so.
Remember that you are free to leave the program at any time and return to Eversource’s Basic Service.
I am currently eligible for a low-income discount from Eversource. Will that 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 Chelsea Electricity Choice, Eversource’s budget billing will continue to apply to the delivery charges on your bill, but it will no longer apply to the supply charges. Your supply charges will be calculated each month based on the amount of electricity you use.
Aggregation and electricity suppliers
I have already signed my own contract with an electricity supplier. Can I participate in Chelsea Electricity Choice?
Yes. If you have already chosen an electricity supplier, you will not automatically be enrolled in Chelsea Electricity Choice, but you choose to participate, and enrolling will be easy. Please be aware that your electricity supplier may charge early termination fees, so you should carefully review your current contract terms and conditions before making that decision. More information about enrolling will be available closer to program launch.
What's the difference between Eversource and an electricity supplier?
In Massachusetts, an electric utility like Eversource is fundamentally an electricity delivery company. Eversource does not generate electricity for you. They are responsible for delivering electricity to you, for maintaining the poles and wires, and for addressing power outages. They charge you for these services on the delivery portion of your electricity bill.
An electricity supplier is a company that buys electricity for you.
- For most electricity customers, their utility is also their electricity supplier. When you first open your electricity account, this is the case. When Eversource is also your electricity supplier, you have what is known as Eversource’s Basic Service.
- You may also choose your own electricity supplier. If you do, the name of that company will appear on your Eversource bill as your electricity supplier, and Eversource will use the rate you negotiated with that electricity supplier to calculate the supply charges on your bill.
- In Chelsea Electricity Choice, the City will choose an electricity supplier on your behalf. If you participate, the name of the company selected by the City will appear on your Eversource bill as your electricity supplier, and Eversource will use the Chelsea Electricity Choice price to calculate the supply charges on your bill.
What is renewable electricity?
Renewable electricity is generated by sources that can be renewed as opposed to sources that can be used only once, such as fossil fuels. Under Massachusetts state law, a variety of resources qualify as renewable. The main sources of renewable electricity are solar, wind, and small hydroelectric projects. Renewable electricity is sometimes referred to as green electricity or clean electricity.
Visit the Renewable Electricity page for more information
What is the minimum amount of renewable electricity required by Massachusetts law?
The minimum amount increases every year. For 2020, Massachusetts state law requires that 16% of your electricity comes from newer renewable energy projects in New England (Massachusetts Class I RECs). In 2021, that number will increase to 18%.
In addition, state law requires the inclusion of a minimum amount of renewable energy from older renewable energy projects in New England (Massachusetts Class II RECs), as well as from some alternative 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.