- Develop the aggregation program
- Create and implement a public outreach and education program on the aggregation process
- Guide the aggregation plan through a very strict and comprehensive review and approval process with the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and the Department of Public Utilities (DPU)
- Develop Request for Proposals for a competitive electricity supplier
- Monitor and manage the aggregation program during the term of the competitive supplier contract
- Develop and submit all required reports to the Mayor, City Council and DOER
An important element of the process leading to approval of the aggregation plan of a municipality by the DPU is to allow for review of the aggregation plan by the residents. The aggregation plan is available for public review, as required by State’s DPU approval process, at the Office of Energy & Environment (Room 205 in Medford City Hall) and on our website.
Oral comments, regarding this plan, were voiced at a Public Meeting on August 8th, 2018.
The matter was discussed at the City Council Meeting on August 14th 2018, in the City Council Chambers.
Written comments were also accepted up until August 9th, 2018, through both email and US Mail.
All the comments were submitted to the Department of Public Utilities (DPU).
What is community aggregation?
Community aggregation is a bulk energy purchase program that can save residents money while increasing the amount of renewable energy they use. This program was created by Massachusetts General Law in 1997 which allows Medford to contract with a consultant to develop an aggregation plan for the city, including an outreach strategy and negotiate with energy suppliers for a better electricity contract for its residents. Bulk purchasing energy allows Medford to use its aggregate spending power to get a better price for electricity and better contract terms than individuals can get.
What are the benefits?
- Community aggregation can get Medford residents lower electricity prices, as demonstrated by Somerville, Brookline, Dedham and other cities.
- Medford residents will also have more stable electricity rates that can only change once a year or less often, when the community aggregation contract is renewed. Currently National Grid customers rate changes every 6 months.
- The reduced rate allows the city to purchase more energy from renewable sources without increasing the cost for consumers. This develops the renewable energy industry in our state and lowers Medford’s emissions.
- Consumers can opt out at any time, there is no termination fee when leaving this program.
- Medford’s contract on behalf of its residents can help protect them from unscrupulous 3rd-party energy companies that market to residents directly but don’t always have their best interests and rates in mind. This helps avoid unfavorable fine print for consumers.
What are the risks?
There are lots of consumer protections in place for community aggregation. Before the contract goes into effect, it is reviewed by the City of Medford and the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. There is a risk that the community aggregation energy rate can become more expensive than the regular utility rate if the regular rate drops drastically between 6 month rate change periods, there is no guarantee when predicting the future. The community aggregation energy rate is only decided once a year, which helps with price volatility, but isn’t as flexible as the regular rate.
Can I opt-out if I don’t want to participate?
Yes, you will be able to opt-out by phone or postcard once the program begins. For new National Grid accounts, you will receive a postcard letting you know that you’re enrolled in this community aggregation program. If you don’t want to remain in the program, you can opt-out on the card and send it back. You can also decide to re-opt in at anytime if you change your mind at a later date.
Do I still pay for my electricity directly?
Yes, you continue to receive and pay your electricity bill as normal from National Grid. The only difference is that the rate will be lower. If there are any outages or issues with your electricity, you still call National Grid as well.
Where is Medford in the community aggregation process?
The Medford City staff has drafted a Municipal Aggregation Plan at no cost to the city or taxpayers and with no string attached by the energy consultant Good Energy. The plan is available for the public to review and comment on by 5PM July 31st (extended to 5PM August 9th).
A public meeting is going to be held on Wednesday, August 8th at 6:30PM and will be voted on by the City Council on Tuesday, August 14th at 7PM.
Why do I keep getting calls?
As noted in this Medford Patch article, many Medford residents are reporting calls, door visits, and mail from people and companies claiming to be National Grid. These are scams. National Grid does not call customers for discounts. Carefully review offers from these people, and never provide personal information over the phone.
Please note that if you receive a personal call or a visit about your electricity or renewable energy, they are not with the City, the utility or the State. Private companies continue to solicit Medford residents and businesses for their electricity business and are not part of this program.
Will switching to community aggregation fix the scamming issue?
Probably not. Actually, Melrose reported an increase in scam calls after switching to community aggregation. However, with community aggregation, these scams are easier to see through, as the customer will have a set rate for the whole year.
Who would oversee community aggregation in Medford?
- Mayor Burke’s Office
- City Council
- MA Department of Energy Resources
- MA Department of Public Utilities
- Energy Consultant Selected by the City
Melrose, A Community Aggregation Success Story
Why did Melrose turn to community aggregation?
- Rate hikes during the winter months put a financial burden on residents.
- Households and businesses receive many solicitations from other suppliers that are confusing. Although they appear to offer savings at first, they end up being a bad deal over time.
- Many ratepayers have trouble deciphering their electricity bill.
- Melrose considered community aggregation an effective vehicle to increase development of renewable energy in MA.
Melrose’s Community Aggregation Implementation Timeline
- May 2014: Board of Aldermen provided approval for the city to explore a community aggregation plan.
- March 2015: Melrose approved the aggregation plan.
- June 2015: Plan was reviewed by the Department of Energy Resources.
- September 29, 2015: Department of Public Utilities approved the plan.
- November 2015: The city sent letters to all eligible National Grid customers informing them of the community aggregation program, and offering the opportunity to opt out. There is a mandatory 30-day opt-out period required by Massachusetts law that closed in late December.
- January 2016: Those who chose not to opt out of the program were enrolled with the city’s selected supplier.
Melrose held various public information forums throughout this process. They were held before the Department of Public Utilities approved the program, during the 30 day opt-out period, and in housing complexes with electric heat and/or vulnerable populations
Melrose Community Aggregation Program Details
- The program begins in January and ends in January of the following year.
- Consumers are automatically enrolled in community aggregation unless they choose to opt out.
- Consumers can leave the program at any time without a termination fee.
- Consumers will still receive one bill from National Grid, and make one payment to National Grid.
- Consumers can still contact National Grid for any service issues.
- Reliability and quality of service remain the same.
Melrose Supply Rates
|Period||Melrose Community Aggregation||National Grid|
|November 1 2015 through April 30 2016||9.616 cents per kWh||13.038 cents per kWh|
|May 1 2016 through October 31 2016||9.616 cents per kWh||8.042 cents per kWh|
|November 1 2016 through January 1 2017||9.616 cents per kWh||9.787 cents per kWh|
|January 2 2017 through April 30 2017||10.22 cents per kWh||9.787 cents per kWh|
|May 1 2017 through June 2017||10.22 cents per kWh||9.432 cents per kWh|
Although community aggregation rates are not always lower than National Grid rates, they are not subject to the same price fluctuations during the colder months.