Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Swampscott Community Power program?

The Swampscott Community Power Program is a municipal electricity aggregation, a form of group electricity purchasing.

Typically, your electric utility, National Grid, provides two sets of services to you:

  1. They deliver your electricity (Massachusetts electric utilities are electricity delivery companies only). Delivery services appear on your National Grid electricity bill as delivery charges.
  2. 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 supplier 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 on your behalf. This third option is municipal electricity aggregation, and this is what the Swampscott Community Power Program is. Swampscott has signed a contract with Direct Energy.
What is a municipal electricity aggregation?

A municipal electricity aggregation, such as the Swampscott Community Power program, 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 that is purchased on behalf of the community as well as the price.

If you participate in Swampscott Community Power, National Grid will deliver your electricity, but Direct Energy will appear on your National Grid bill as your electricity supplier. Also, the Swampscott Community Power price will be used to calculate the supplier services charges on your National Grid electricity bill instead of National Grid’s Basic Service price.

Swampscott Community Power provides an alternative both to Eversource’s Basic Service pricing and to other electricity supply offers in the marketplace.

Where do I see this program on my National Grid bill?

The Swampscott Community Power Program appears on your National Grid electricity bill in two ways:

  1. On the supplier services portion of your National Grid electricity bill, you will see Direct Energy listed as your electricity supplier instead of National Grid.
  2. The price that is used to calculate the supplier services portion of your National Grid bill will be the Swampscott Community Power program price, instead of National Grid’s Basic Service price.

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.

What will my electricity supply price be?

Your price depends on which program option you participate in. The program offers three options:

  • Standard Green: 11.444 ¢/kWh for all customers. Includes 100% renewable electricity, including 5% from renewable energy projects in New England (MA Class I RECs) in addition to the minimum amount required by the state. Standard Green is the default program option. All new National Grid electricity accounts in Swampscott are enrolled in Standard Green unless they choose another option or opt out.
  • New England Green: 13.499 ¢/kWh for all customers. Includes 100% renewable electricity, all from renewable electricity projects in New England (MA Class I RECs).
  • Basic: 11.244 kWh for all customers. Meets minimum Massachusetts renewable energy requirements, like National Grid’s Basic Service.

See the Options & Pricing page for current program prices.

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 Swampscott Community Power price is fixed until November 2021. When the Town signs a new contract and the price changes, the Town will announce the new price publicly before it takes effect.

Are savings compared to National Grid's Basic Service price guaranteed?

No. The Swampscott Community Power price is fixed until November 2021. However, National Grid’s fixed Basic Service price changes every 6 months for residential and commercial customers, and every 3 months for industrial customers. Future prices are not known. As a result, savings cannot be guaranteed.

How do I join Swampscott Community Power?

All new electricity customers in Swampscott are automatically enrolled in Swampscott Community Power, in Standard Green, unless they choose another option or opt out.

However, if you left the program previously and want to re-enroll, or you were never enrolled, please contact the program’s electricity supplier, Direct Energy at 1-866-968-8065.

What is the difference between National Grid and an electricity supplier?

National Grid is Swampscott’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 Swampcott Community Power, the Town chooses an electricity supplier on your behalf. Swampscott has signed a contract with Direct Energy to supply electricity to the Town. Direct Energy will appear on your National Grid bill as your electricity supplier, and the rate the Town has secured from with them will be used to calculate the supply services charges on your bill.
Does this program replace National Grid as my electric utility?

No. National Grid is the electric utility for Swampscott and will continue to deliver your electricity, and your primary relationship for electricity will remain with National Grid.

Swampscott Community Power will change the supplier on your National Grid bill to Direct Energy, and it will change the rate 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.

What's the minimum amount of renewable electricity required by state law?

The minimum amount increases every year. For 2019, Massachusetts state law requires that renewable electricity must be purchased from renewable energy projects in New England to match 14% of your electricity use.

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.

I received a call/visit/letter in the mail about my electric bill. Is it from the Town or this program?

The Swampscott Community Power program sends out one letter about the program when your electricity account is first enrolled, which occurs shortly after you open the account with National Grid. That letter includes the Swampscott Community Power program name, the Town seal, and the Town Manager’s name at the bottom. If the letter you received does not include all three items, it is not from the Town and does not represent the Town program.

Please note that if National Grid is your electricity supplier and you receive a letter about the program in the mail, you will be automatically enrolled in the program unless you choose to opt out. 

You do not need to provide additional information to participate. Any person or company who asks for additional information when they market their program to you does not represent the Swampscott Community Power program.

If you receive a call or a visit from someone who wants to discuss your electricity bill, keep these two things in mind:

  • 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.
How do I know if I'm enrolled in the program and which option I have?

Check your most recently National Grid electricity bill. If you are enrolled in the Swampscott Community Power program, your electricity supplier will be listed as Direct Energy, and it will mention Swampscott Community Power.

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. If you are enrolled in the New England Green option, the price will be $0.13499/kWh (13.499 cents/kWh). If you are enrolled in the Standard Green offering (5% additional renewable electricity), the price will be $0.11444/kWh (11.444 cents/kWh). If you are enrolled in the Basic option (minimum amount of renewable electricity required by the state), the price will be $0.11244/kWh (11.244 cents/kWh).

How long will the program last?

Swampscott’s current contract is with Direct Energy. The contract price will be in effect until November 2021 meter reads. Swampscott can then establish a contract with a new electricity supplier or end the program and return participants to National Grid’s Basic Service. If Swampscott does establish a contract with a new electricity supplier, the Town will announce the new price, and program participants will remain enrolled under the new contract.

Who is eligible to participate?

All metered electricity customers within the geographic boundaries of Swampscott are eligible to participate. All new electricity accounts in Swampscott will be automatically enrolled.

I signed my own contract with an electricity supplier. Will I be automatically enrolled?

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, please contact the Town’s electricity supplier, Direct Energy, at 1-866-968-8065 and ask to be enrolled in the Swampscott Community Power program.

Do I have to participate?

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 opt out anytime.

My account is tax exempt with National Grid. How do I maintain my tax exempt status within the Swampscott Community Power program?

Tax exempt accounts that wish to maintain their tax exempt status in the Swampscott Community Power program 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.

 

What if National Grid's Basic Service price falls below the Swampscott Community Power 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.

Someone came to my door/called me about an electricity program? Is that the Town program?
Swampscott is not knocking on doors or making individual sales phone calls for the Community Power program. Eligible customers will be automatically enrolled.

If you receive a call, here are three things to keep in mind:

  • The company you are speaking with is not associated with Swampscott’s Community Power program.
  • 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.
Who do I call when the power goes out?

Call National Grid if your power goes out. National Grid will deliver your electricity and maintain the poles and wires.

Will I receive a second bill?

No. National Grid will bill you for your electricity. This is the only electricity bill you will receive as a participant in Swampscott Community Power.

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 Swampscott Community Power. 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 Swampscott chooses a supplier for you.

I am currently under National Grid budget billing/eligible for the low-income delivery rate. Will this change?

If you participate in budget billing or are eligible for any discounts from National Grid, those will be unaffected by your participation in Swampscott Community Power.

I have solar panels on my property. If I join the program, will I continue to receive net metering credits?

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.