City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to support a Community Choice Aggregation agreement that increases the portion of green energy purchased through the program by 45 percent.
This is in addition to the state required 14 percent, meaning if all goes well, come October, 59 percent of energy bulk purchased by the city will be renewable.
Energy Manager Katherine Moses said the agreement needs to be brokered then finalized by City Manager Eileen Donoghue before taking effect.
According to Moses, at the current market rate, the agreement would equal a $6 per month cost savings for the average Lowell resident, someone who uses just over 500 kilowatt hours per month.
“The market right now has the opportunity to really increase our renewable content while also helping to save for our residents and business,” Moses said.
If the city opted for no increase to renewable energy, the savings would have been larger, about $12 per month for the average resident, she said.
Proponents called the agreement a “win-win” and urged a 45 percent, or more, increase to renewable energy.
“This is not about price,” said Stephen Malagodi, of Lowell, a member of 350 Massachusetts, a renewable energy advocacy group. “It’s about living up to our responsibilities to the future of life on this planet.”
Jonathan Grossman, also a member of 350 Massachusetts, called on local government to address climate change.
“Everybody has to do their part,” Grossman said. “Every aspect of government has to do their part to confront climate change and what it’s going to do to us if we don’t do something about it.
Moses said if the contract goes through, the city will send out mailings with firm prices that explain the changes in October.
Residents and businesses can opt out of the program. Those who receive energy from a “competitive supplier” will not be affected, she said.
The City Council supported a 26-month contract. The end of this contract would coincide with the end of of a different contract with an energy broker, which is due to expire in 2021.
The Council specifically supported an additional 45 percent of Class I Renewable Energy Certifications. Moses said what falls into this category is complicated, but it could include wind or solar power. It does not include nuclear power.
Two years ago, the City Council voted to support the goal of using 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. Jay Mason, chair of the Lowell Sustainability Council, said this will help the city move closer to this goal as the state required amount of renewable energy also increases by 2 percent each year.
“We’re going to be almost there and we can make that decision tonight,” he said.
In 2014, Lowell introduced an energy aggregation plan, which allows the city to buy energy in bulk to secure better rates for customers. In the first six months residents and business owners were projected to collectively save $9.5 million on their energy bills.
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