By Rick Sobey,   UPDATED:   12/02/2017 09:19:40 AM EST

BILLERICA — If you’ve never shopped around for the best energy rate, and instead lock into National Grid’s rate year after year, you’re about to save some money.

The town recently created the Billerica Community Choice Power Supply Program, which is expected to bring energy cost savings to residents and business owners.

Officials estimate that residents and business owners will collectively save more than $700,000 over the next 12 months through this program. They’re expected to receive an average savings of more than 5 percent in their monthly energy bills.

The town locked in a rate of .10984 kWh for residents, compared to National Grid’s current rate over the next six months of .12673 kWh.

“It’s a nice option for people so they can save some money,” Billerica Selectmen Chairman Andrew Deslaurier said. “If people don’t want this rate, they’re able to opt out.

“It’s a pretty good rate, and cheaper than National Grid’s,” he added.

The Billerica Community Choice Power Supply Program is a municipal aggregation program that enables local government to combine the purchasing power of its residents and businesses.

No action is required by residents and business owners to participate in this initiative. The program will be operated on an opt-out basis, meaning that all Billerica residential and business customers on National Grid’s basic service will be automatically enrolled into the program unless they choose to opt out.

They can opt out at any time, and there are no penalty charges.

Dan Burns, a former selectman, advocated for this program two years ago to save residents money on their electric bill. He has researched electricity rates for years, saving plenty of money on his monthly bill.

He recently locked into a rate that’s better than the town’s deal, so he will opt out of the town’s program.

“I thought the town could have gotten a better deal,” Burns said. “We want to make sure residents are getting the best deal out there.

“I can do better in the field than what the town did, and that doesn’t make sense to me,” he added.

Deslaurier argues that this rate is better than what the majority of residents are currently getting, so this is an improvement for them.

“It’s a way of getting some assistance with their electricity bill, and they don’t have to do anything,” Deslaurier said. “There is no effort involved.”

The town worked with Colonial Power Group, Inc. on this initiative. Colonial Power Group, which serves more than 60 municipalities in Massachusetts, was chosen to design, implement and administer the program.

“By essentially buying our energy in bulk, we will be able to provide Billerica residents with a buffer from the periodic spikes in the cost of electricity,” Town Manager John Curran said. “We are delighted to be able to offer residents and small business owners an energy option that provides more stable pricing along with a lower overall cost.”

The program will provide a combined average savings of nearly $59,000 per month for the town’s homes and businesses during the contract term.

In addition, residents and business owners can also choose to opt-in to a green-energy option that uses 100 percent National Wind renewable energy certificates.

“The Billerica Community Choice program provides price stability, local control, and competition while also lowering the burden of energy costs for Billerica’s residents and business community,” Mark Cappadona, president of Colonial Power Group, Inc., said in a statement. “We commend Billerica’s Board of Selectmen and Town Manager Curran for their forward-thinking approach to energy purchasing. By taking this action, they are helping to save residents and business owners money on their electricity costs.”

The initiative will go into effect with the January 2018 meter reads.

Residents will not notice any change in their electricity service. The only discernible difference will be that Constellation NewEnergy, Inc. of Houston, Texas, the selected electricity supplier for the program, will be printed under “Supply Services” on National Grid’s monthly bills.

Residents and business owners will continue to receive one bill from National Grid, and to send payments to National Grid for processing.

Individuals can opt out by calling 844-751-8108.

The town will hold an informational session on this program in Town Hall’s auditorium on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.

For more information, call the Town Manager’s Office at 978-671-0942.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.

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