By DOMENIC POLI
CONWAY — A plan drafted to allow Conway residents to save money and buy electricity as a cluster has been reviewed by the state Department of Energy Resources and forwarded to the state public utilities department, meaning the town can go to bid after this final round of approval.
Town Administrator Tom Hutcheson said the savings to each customer won’t be known until the work goes out to bid to suppliers, and this cannot happen until the DOER approves the plan. He said that could take about six months. According to the plan, savings cannot be guaranteed.
Hutcheson explained electric aggregation would bulk together consumers to incentivize a lower price on electricity. Colonial Power Group, an aggregation consulting firm, is Conway’s electric broker and will work to secure for the town electric power from a wholesaler.
“The more people you have buying together, the more clout you have in the marketplace,” Hutcheson said, adding that Conway would essentially be a single large customer, as opposed to hundreds of individual ones. “It’s kind of a no-loss plan, because we either will come up with a lower price or we won’t, and if we don’t, Colonial Power has assumed all the risk of this and we’re not paying them for this.”
Hutcheson said Colonial Power expects to make up its expenses through overhead.
Conway Selectboard Clerk Robert Armstrong said he has long been an advocate for electric aggregation. He explained any town interested in aggregation is required by law to craft its own plan.
“But if you get a lot of towns who do it on the same scheduled and the same aggregation broker, the broker can then go buy all of your electricity together,” he explained. He said 13 or 14 towns are interested in teaming up with Conway and “most municipal aggregation plans in Massachusetts virtually identical.”
According to the plan, enrollment numbers from previous community aggregations indicate 97 percent of eligible customers in Conway would participate. Any contract would run for a fixed term, and no eligible customer is required to receive service. The broker negotiates, recommends and monitors the program and the contract. A link to a copy of the plan is available at bit.ly/2OHPue5.
Hutcheson said public information meetings will be held when the DPU approves the plan.
Reach Domenic Poli at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.