General program information
What is the Salem PowerChoice program?
Salem PowerChoice is a municipal electricity aggregation, a form of group electricity purchasing.
Typically, your electric utility, National Grid, provides two sets of services to you:
- They deliver your electricity (Massachusetts electric utilities are electricity delivery companies only). Delivery services appear on your National Grid 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 National Grid electricity bill as supply services charges.
But in Massachusetts, there are actually three ways to purchase your electricity:
- Your utility, National Grid, 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 that you can benefit from. This third option is municipal electricity aggregation, and this is what Salem PowerChoice is. Salem has signed a contract with an electricity supply company called Dynegy.
What is a municipal electricity aggregation?
A municipal electricity aggregation, such as Salem PowerChoice, is a group purchasing program for electricity.
In an aggregation, the City uses the bulk purchasing power of the entire community to select an electricity supplier and to negotiate both the amount of renewable energy that is purchased on behalf of the community as well as the price.
If you participate in Salem PowerChoice, National Grid will deliver your electricity, but the electricity supplier chosen by the City will appear on your National Grid bill as your electricity supplier. In addition, a Salem PowerChoice price will be used to calculate the supplier services charges on your National Grid electricity bill instead of National Grid’s Basic Service price.
Salem PowerChoice provides an alternative to National Grid’s Basic Service and to other electricity supply offers in the marketplace.
How do I benefit from the program?
The program offers a few key benefits:
Cleaner electricity: As a new participant in Salem PowerChoice, you will automatically receive all of your electricity from renewable sources like the sun and the wind instead of from burning fossil fuels, unless you choose the Basic option.
Stable prices: Salem PowerChoice offers long-term, fixed prices. This makes the program different from many electricity offers in the market, which may offer a low introductory price that then rises later. It is also different from National Grid’s Basic Service pricing, which changes every 6 months or less and can be especially high during winter months. Participating in Salem PowerChoice can insulate you from those high winter price swings.
Consumer protections: Salem PowerChoice has been designed to be consumer friendly with protections in place for Salem residents and businesses. For example, you are free leave the program at any time with no fee or penalty.
What changes with Salem PowerChoice?
After your account is enrolled in Salem PowerChoice, you will see two changes on your National Grid electricity bill:
- Your price used to calculate the supply services portion of your bill will change to the program price.
- You will see the City’s supplier listed on your bill as your electricity supplier.
Everything else will remain the same. You will receive your bill from National Grid, you will pay National Grid, and you will call National Grid when your power goes out.
Who do I call when the power goes out?
Call National Grid if your power goes out as usual. National Grid will continue to deliver your electricity and maintain the poles and wires.
Someone came to my door/called me about an electricity program. Is that Salem PowerChoice or National Grid?
No. Neither Salem nor National Grid will knock on doors or make individual sales phone calls.
If you receive a call, here are three things to keep in mind:
- The company you are speaking with is not associated with National Grid or Salem PowerChoice.
- You should treat your National Grid 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.
My account is tax exempt with National Grid. How do I maintain my tax exempt status within Salem PowerChoice?
Tax exempt accounts that wish to maintain their tax exempt status in Salem PowerChoice 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 National Grid already, but National Grid does not share this documentation with the program’s electricity supplier. It is the customer’s responsibility to submit this documentation.
Get information on where to send your tax-exemption documentation.
How long will the program last?
Salem’s contract with Dynegy ends in December 2024. When the contract with Dynegy ends, Salem can then establish a contract with a new electricity supplier or end the program and return participants to National Grid’s Basic Service. If Salem does establish a contract with a new electricity supplier, the City will announce the new price, and program participants will remain enrolled but under the new contract.
How do I know if I'm enrolled in Salem PowerChoice and which option I have?
Electricity supply & electricity suppliers
I signed my own contract with an electricity supplier. Will I be automatically enrolled in Salem PowerChoice?
No. However, you are welcome to participate. If you would like 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.
If you decide you would like to enroll, you can enroll online or by calling customer support with the City’s program consultants at 1-844-483-5004.
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 National Grid’s Basic Service, National Grid acts as your electricity supplier and your electricity supply, in addition to delivering the electricity to you. With Salem PowerChoice, National Grid will continue to deliver your electricity, but Salem chooses its own supplier.
What is an electricity supplier?
An electricity supplier is NOT your utility. An electricity 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 utility bill.
Who is the current electricity supplier?
Dynegy is the electricity supplier for Salem PowerChoice until December 2024.
What is the difference between National Grid and an electricity supplier?
National Grid is Salem’s electric utility. They are your electricity delivery company. That means National Grid is responsible for delivering electricity to you, for maintaining the poles and wires, and for addressing power outages. National Grid charges you for these services on the delivery services portion of your electricity bill.
An electricity supplier is a company that buys electricity for you from electricity generators or from electricity brokers. When you have National Grid’s Basic Service, National Grid is also your electricity supplier, meaning they are buying your electricity in addition to delivering it.(National Grid does not generate electricity.)
- For most electricity customers, their utility is also their electricity supplier. When they are your supplier (i.e., when you are on National Grid’s Basic Service), your electricity bill will indicate that is the case.
- You may also choose your own electricity supplier. If you do, the name of that company will appear on your National Grid bill as your electricity supplier, and the rate you negotiated with them will be used to calculate the supply services charges on your bill.
- In Salem PowerChoice, the City chooses your electricity supplier. Salem has signed a contract with Dynegy to supply electricity to the City from December 2021 – December 2024. This means Dynegy will appear on your National Grid bill as your electricity supplier, and the price the City has secured from with them will be used to calculate the supply services charges on your bill.
What will my electricity supply price be?
Are savings compared to National Grid's Basic Service price guaranteed?
No. The Salem PowerChoice price will be fixed until December 2024. However, National Grid’s fixed Basic Service price changes every 6 months for residential and commercial customers, and every 3 months for industrial customers, and future prices are not known. As a result, savings cannot be guaranteed.
I am currently under National Grid budget billing/eligible for the low-income delivery rate. Will this change?
No. If you participate in budget billing or are eligible for any discounts from National Grid, those will be unaffected by your participation in Salem PowerChoice.
Will I receive a second bill?
No. National Grid will continue sending your electricity bill, and this is the only electricity bill you will receive as a participant in Salem PowerChoice.
Where do I see this program on my National Grid bill?
Salem PowerChoice appears on your National Grid electricity bill in two ways:
- On the supply services portion of your National Grid electricity bill, you will see Dynegy listed as your electricity supplier instead of National Grid.
- The price that is used to calculate the supplier services portion of your National Grid bill will be a Salem PowerChoice price, instead of National Grid’s Basic Service price.
See an example National Grid electricity bill.
Additionally, the amount of renewable energy purchased on your behalf may change, depending on which program option you choose.
Otherwise, you will receive your electricity bill from National Grid, you will pay National Grid, and you will call National Grid if your power goes out.
If you are eligible for any discounts from National Grid, those will be unaffected by your participation in this program.
I have solar panels on my property. If I join the program, will I continue to receive net metering credits on my National Grid 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 bill and will continue to be calculated based on National Grid’s Basic Service price.
What if National Grid's Basic Service price falls below the Salem PowerChoice price?
This is likely to happen during some months. The reason is because the program prices are long-term, fixed prices, but National Grid’s Basic Service prices change every 6 months for residential and commercial accounts and every 3 months for industrial accounts. Future prices are not known. As a result, savings compared with National Grid’s Basic Service price are not guaranteed. However, you are free to opt out of the program and return to Basic Service at any time with no fee or penalty.
This program provides a stable electricity supply price. Why is that important?
Having a stable price for the supply part of your National Grid electricity bill can protect you from the seasonal price increases that occur when you have National Grid’s Basic Service. When National Grid is your electricity supplier, the price that is used to calculate the supply charges on your National Grid bill changes every 6 months for residential and other small customers, and it changes more frequently for larger commercial customers.
Having a stable price for the supply part of your National Grid 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.
The Salem PowerChoice price will change in December 2024, after the City signs a new electricity supply contract. The City will announce the new price publicly before it takes effect.
Is participation required?
No. You may choose not to participate. 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 continue with or be returned to National Grid’s Basic Service.
You may opt out online or by calling customer support with the City’s program consultants at 1-844-483-5004.
Who is eligible to participate?
All metered electricity customers within the geographic boundaries of Salem are eligible to participate. All new electricity accounts in Salem will be automatically enrolled within a few months of opening. You will receive an informational letter in the mail from the City prior to being automatically enrolled that explains the program and your rights within it.
How do I participate in Salem PowerChoice?
New electricity accounts in Salem will be automatically enrolled within a few months of opening.
You may alternatively enroll online or by calling customer support with Salem’s program consultants at 1-844-483-5004.
What if I am with another electricity supplier, but I want to participate in Salem PowerChoice?
If you have signed an electricity supply contract with another supplier, you are welcome to join the program.
To enroll, you may enroll online or contact customer support with Salem’s program consultants at 1-844-483-5004 and ask to join.
We recommend that you carefully check the terms and conditions of your supplier agreement. Your ability to terminate your agreement with your supplier may be restricted.
How do I choose the Plus or Basic options?
To choose Plus or Basic, complete the online form or call customer support with Salem’s program consultants at 1-844-483-5004.
I don't want to participate in Salem PowerChoice. What should I do?
You may choose not to participate. This is called opting out. You may opt out at any time. There is no penalty for opting out. If you choose to opt out, you will be returned to National Grid’s Basic Service.
You have three ways to opt out of the program:
1. Sign and return the reply card that you received in the mail, if you received a program notification letter. You must postmark your response within 30 days of the date on the letter in order to be opted out of the program before being enrolled.
2. Call customer support at 1-844-483-5004 and tell them you want to opt out of Salem PowerChoice. You may do this at any time after receiving the program notification letter and/or at any time after participating in the program.
3. Opt out online. You may do this at any time after receiving the program notification letter and/or at any time after participating in the program.
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 like coal, oil, and gas. Under Massachusetts state law, a variety of resources qualify as renewable. The main sources of renewable electricity are solar, wind, and small hydroelectric projects.
Why is buying renewable electricity important?
Burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas to generate energy releases harmful gases into the atmosphere that cause climate change and releases pollution that cause health problem. In addition, mining or extracting fossil fuels causes environmental damage. And once fossil fuels are used up, there is no way to replace them.
Using renewable sources like the sun and the wind to generate electricity releases no harmful gases or pollution into the atmosphere. In addition, the sun and the wind are energy sources that cannot be used up.
What's the minimum amount of renewable electricity required by state law? Do I receive the state minimum through Salem PowerChoice?
The minimum amount increases every year. For 2022, Massachusetts state law requires that renewable electricity must be purchased from “premium” renewable energy projects in the New England region (MA Class I RECs) to match 18% of your electricity use. For 2022 that number increases to 20%
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.
As a participant in Salem PowerChoice, you receive all of your electricity from renewable sources (far above the state minimum) if you participate in the Standard or Plus options. If you participate in the Basic option, you receive just the minimum amount required by state law.
Why should I opt up to the Plus option?
The Plus option provides all of your electricity from renewable energy projects located in the New England region.
By purchasing your electricity from local renewable energy projects, you create more demand for renewable energy projects in New England. This shows renewable energy developers that there is a strong market in New England and drives them to build more. Choosing the Plus option is an investment in making our local power grid cleaner.
Will I receive a lower quality of service from National Grid if I participate in this program?
No. National Grid’s quality of service to you will be unaffected by your participation in Salem PowerChoice. The reason is because National Grid 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 are your supplier or Salem chooses a supplier for you.
Does this program replace National Grid as my electric utility?
No. National Grid is the electric utility for Salem and will continue to deliver your electricity, and your primary relationship for electricity will remain with National Grid.
Salem PowerChoice will change the supplier on your National Grid bill to Dynegy, and it will change the price that is used to calculate the supply services charges on your National Grid electricity bill. But your bill will continue to come from National Grid, and National Grid will continue to be your electric utility.