What is Sharon Power Choice?
Sharon Power Choice is a municipal electricity aggregation, a form of group electricity purchasing.
Typically, your electric utility (Eversource or 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 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 Sharon Power Choice is.
What is a municipal electricity aggregation?
A municipal electricity aggregation, such as Sharon Power Choice, is a group purchasing program for electricity.
In an aggregation, the Town uses the bulk purchasing power of the entire community to select an electricity supplier and to negotiate both the amount of renewable energy in the electricity and the price.
If you participate in the program, your electric utility, Eversource or National Grid, will continue to deliver your electricity, but:
- The company chosen by the Town will appear on your existing electricity bill as your electricity supplier
- The price that the Town negotiates will be used to calculate the Supply charges on your existing electricity bill instead of the Basic Service price from Eversource or National Grid.
Sharon Power Choice will provide an alternative both to Eversource’s and National Grid’s Basic Service pricing and to other electricity supply offers in the marketplace.
What will change with this program?
You will see two key changes as a result of participating in Sharon Power Choice:
- On the Supply portion of your existing electricity bill, you will see the program supplier listed as your electricity supplier instead of Eversource or National Grid
- The rate that you are charged for the supply / supplier services portion of your electricity bill will change from the Eversource or National Grid Basic Service rate to the Sharon Power Choice price.
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 or National Grid, you will continue to pay Eversource or National Grid, and you will continue to call Eversource or National Grid if your power goes out.
If you are eligible for any discounts from Eversource or National Grid, those discounts will be unaffected by your participation in this program.
Why is Sharon launching this program?
The primary goal of Sharon Power Choice is to increase the amount of renewable energy integrated into the electricity used by Sharon electricity customers at a favorable and stable price.
Massachusetts state law already requires that a minimum amount of renewable energy be included in all the electricity sold in the state. The standard renewables level for Sharon Power Choice will include additional renewable energy over and above the state required minimum.
In addition to the standard offering, the program will offer other options, such as the ability to choose 100% renewable energy and the ability to participate in the program but to receive no renewable energy beyond the minimum amount required by state law.
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 or National Grid’s Basic Service. When you have Eversource’s or National Grid’s Basic Service, the price that is used to calculate the supply charges on your electricity 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 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 Sharon Power Choice price will be fixed for longer than 6 months, and when it changes, the Town will announce the new price publicly before it takes effect.
What's the difference between Eversource or National Grid and an electricity supplier?
In Massachusetts, an electric utility like Eversource or National Grid is fundamentally and electricity delivery company. Eversource and National Grid do 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 from electricity generators or from electricity brokers.
- For most electricity customers, their utility is also their electricity supplier. That means they go out to the market and buy electricity for you. When your utility is your supplier (i.e., when you have what is known as 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 Eversource or National Grid bill as your electricity supplier, and the rate you negotiated with them will be used to calculate the supply / supplier services charges on your bill.
- In Sharon Power Choice, the Town will choose an electricity supplier on your behalf. If you participate in the program, the name of that company will appear on your Eversource or National Grid bill as your electricity supplier, and the rate the Town has negotiated with them will be used to calculate the supply / supplier services charges on your bill.
What is the minimum amount of renewable electricity required by state law?
Massachusetts state law requires that all electricity sold in the state must include a minimum amount of electricity generated by renewable sources and also by alternative, highly efficient sources that are not considered renewable. These requirements are known as the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and the Alternative Portfolio Standard (APS). The required amounts increase a little every year.
For 2019, Massachusetts requires a minimum of 14% from newer New England-based renewable energy projects (Massachusetts Class I RECs), and an additional 10.9383% from other types of renewable energy projects as well as alternative energy sources. The amount increases every year. (For details, download the RPS and APS Minimum Standards through 2025 spreadsheet from the state’s Annual Compliance Information for Retail Electric Suppliers web page.)
Why should I opt up to 100% renewable electricity?
Sharon Power Choice will include the option to choose 100% renewable electricity, all generated by renewable energy projects in New England.
Choosing this option means making a significant commitment to sustainability and to the New England economy.
Every time you pay your electric bill, you will take an even bigger step toward:
- Addressing climate change and improving local air quality by limiting greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants created from generating electricity with fossil fuels. Electricity generated from renewable sources, such as the sun and wind, does not create the greenhouse gases that cause climate change and does not pollute the air.
- Supporting New England-based renewable energy projects by creating additional demand for the electricity generated by those projects.
- Supporting local businesses and local jobs by buying all of your electricity from New England-based renewable energy projects.
I received a call/visit/letter in the mail about my electric bill. Is it from the Town or this program?
Sharon Power Choice will send out one letter about the program just before program launch. That letter will include the Town seal.
If the letter you received does not include the Town seal, it is not from the Town and does not represent the Town program.
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 or 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.
Does this program replace Eversource or National Grid as my electric utility?
No. If you participate in Sharon Power choice, Eversource / National Grid will remain your electric utility. They will continue to deliver your electricity, and your primary relationship for electricity will remain with them.
Sharon Power Choice will change the supplier on your Eversource or National Grid bill, and it will change the rate that is used to calculate the supply charge portion of your electricity bill. But your bill will continue to come from Eversource or National Grid as it does now.
What will my electricity supply price be through the program?
We do not yet know the prices for the different options in the program. The prices will be determined when the Town signs a contract with an electricity supplier. That will occur after the state regulatory review and approval process for Sharon Power Choice has been completed.
Will I know the program price and the price of each program option before I am enrolled?
Yes. If you are an Eversource or National Grid Basic Service customer, you will receive a letter in the mail with program information, including pricing, before the program launches. The program website will also be updated to include pricing information, and the Town will make public presentations about the program before program launch.
Note that Eversource and National Grid Basic Service prices change every six months or less, depending on what kind of account you have. Although you will know the program pricing at launch time, you will not know the Eversource or National Grid Basic Service price beyond the current Basic Service pricing period.
How long will the program last?
The program itself will last as long as the contract for electricity supply that the Town enters into. The Town will evaluate the bids that it receives from electricity suppliers and will select the contract duration that provides the best value for electricity customers. At this point, the duration of the initial electricity supply contract is not yet known. Although the program will last for as long as the Town decides, you can leave the program with no fee at any time and go back to Eversource’s or National Grid’s Basic Service.
How do I join the program?
Households and businesses with Eversource’s or National Grid’s Basic Service will be automatically enrolled in the program at the standard level of renewable electricity that the Town chooses.
If you have your own contract with an electricity supplier at the time of program launch (in other words, if you are not on Eversource’s or Natioal Grid’s Basic Service), you will not be automatically enrolled in the program. However, you will be able to enroll in the program if you wish. Information about how to enroll will be made available closer to program launch
Do I have to participate?
No. Participation is not required. There is no penalty for opting out. You may do so at any time. You may opt out of the program before being automatically enrolled. If you opt out before being automatically enrolled, the supply portion of your bill will remain on Eversource’s or National Grid’s Basic Service rate.
Anyone who chooses to participate in Sharon Power Choice will be able to opt out any time after enrollment with no fee or penalty.
Information about how to opt out will be made available closer to program launch.
I have already signed my own contract with an electricity supplier. Can I participate?
Yes. If you have already chosen an electricity supplier, you will not automatically be enrolled, but you can enroll in Sharon Power Choice if you wish. Information about how to enroll will be made available closer to program launch.
Who do I call if the power goes out?
Call your electric utility, Eversource or National Grid, if your power goes out, as always. They remain responsible for delivering electricity to you, for maintaining the poles and wires, and for restoring power after an outage.
Will I receive a second bill?
No. If you participate in Sharon Power Choice, the program price will be integrated into your existing electricity bill from Eversource or National Grid. Your current bill is the only electricity bill you will receive as a participant in Sharon Power Choice.
Will Eversource or National Grid provide me with a lower quality of service because I participate in this program?
No. Eversource’s / National Grid’s quality of service to you will be unaffected by your participation in Sharon Power Choice. Your electric utility 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 are your electricity supplier or Sharon chooses its own electricity supplier.
What if Eversource's or National Grid's Basic Service price falls below the Sharon Power Choice price while I am enrolled?
The Sharon Power Choice price will be fixed for the duration of the contract that the Town enters into. However, the utility Basic Service prices change every 6 months for residential and small business customers, and every 3 months for medium and large business customers. As a result, it is likely that for some months, the Eversource’s or National Grid’s price will fall below the Sharon Power Choice price. The program cannot guarantee that it will beat the utility prices. The program goal is to beat the average of the changing utility 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 your utility’s Basic Service.
I am currently eligible for a low-income discount on my electricity bill. Will this change?
No. If you are eligible for a low-income discount, it will be unaffected by your participation in the program.
I have the budget billing from Eversource. Will this change?
Budget billing is a service from your utility in which your bill is the same amount every month, regardless of how much electricity you use.
If Eversource is your electric utility, that will change. If you participate in Sharon Power Choice, budget billing will no longer apply to the supply portion of your electricity bill. If paying exactly the same amount every month is important to you, you should opt out of Sharon Power Choice.
If National Grid is your electric utility, this will not change if you participate in Sharon Power Choice.
I have solar panels on my property/participate in community solar. If I join the program, will I continue to receive net metering credits on my electricity 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 electricity bill and will continue to be calculated based on your utility’s Basic Service price, not the program price.
Is Sharon the only community in Massachusetts implementing this kind of program?
No. Municipal electricity aggregation has been building momentum across Massachusetts. Sharon will join more than 140 other Massachusetts communities that already have aggregations. Recently, these communities have been implementing “green” aggregations like Sharon Power Choice, which increase the amount of renewable electricity in the community’s electricity supply beyond the minimum amount that is required by state law.