By Abigail Adams / firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Oct 19, 2018 at 11:00 AM
Cohasset’s Alternative Energy Committee has begun exploring the possibility of establishing a community aggregation program aimed at lowering power costs for residents.
Plymouth Chief Energy Officer Patrick Farrah and the president of Colonial Power Group Mark Cappadona met with the committee this week as it mulls the municipal aggregation option. Under a municipal aggregation, cities and towns may elect to purchase electricity in bulk from a competitive supplier on behalf of its residents and businesses, which in turn can lead to more competitive rates.
Dozens of Massachusetts communities, including several on the South Shore, have already taken on the municipal aggregation process. Each municipality has the ability to create their own local aggregation, and is required by the Commonwealth to ensure participation in the program is voluntary.
Residents in communities with municipal aggregation programs can choose to opt out of (or back into) the program at any time, as required by the state. Customers that do not automatically opt out of the program will be automatically enrolled, but will be given a window of time to educate themselves on the matter beforehand.
In Plymouth, which many consider a more conservative community in Massachusetts, only 5.4 percent of residents originally opted out of the municipal aggregation program approved by the town in 2017. Cappadona called Plymouth’s opt-out rates “fantastic” considering some of the initial push back from some residents.
Before seeking a supplier, the town must first bring the issue before Town Meeting. The town would then devise a plan for the aggregation, which selectmen would be asked to approve.
The proposal would then be taken to the Department of Energy Resources (DOER), which would hold consultations before being asked for approval.
The town would then be required to file with the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), who must also hold a hearing regarding the proposal. Anyone from Cohasset that would wish to be heard would have the opportunity to do so at that hearing.
Should the town’s proposal receive approval from each of the appropriate entities, Cohasset officials would then receive an order allowing them to explore the marketplace for supplier and begin making decisions around the aggregation itself.
The committee is now looking at how to best incorporate green energy into the project. Although some towns utilize municipal aggregations to create more competitive rates, others have been known to use the program to help them achieve their renewable energy goals, Cappadona said.
Despite the benefits to the environment, there are currently no tax benefits for those that choose the green option for their municipal aggregation program, Cappadona said. AEC chairman Stephen Girardi said the committee still needs to assess the town’s options and determine if going green with the project would be a benefit for the town.
“We have to feel it out here to see if it is something we can do,” Girardi said, adding, “There’s nothing wrong with saving a few dollars.”