In an effort to increase the amount of renewable energy in the city’s electricity supply, Newton is currently in the process of developing a new electricity aggregation plan. Named Newton Power Choice, the aggregation program is a form of group electricity purchasing that allows the local government to negotiate an electricity contract on behalf of all Newton residents and businesses. This allows the local government to decide the amount of renewable energy in the electricity supply and its price.
According to the Newton Power Choice website, the program offers residents the benefits of greener electricity, price stability, and consumer protections.
With the implementation of the new program, Newton will join the more than 125 other communities in Massachusetts that already use electricity aggregation. Of these communities, Newton will be one of the first to utilize aggregation for the added benefit of a more renewable energy supply.
“Only a few handfuls of [the other communities] have actually used the program to buy more renewable electricity,” said Ann Berwick, co-director of sustainability for the City of Newton. “So we’re actually kind of in the front in terms of the communities that are using municipal aggregation to make their electricity supply cleaner.”
As stated on the website, Newton Power Choice participants will automatically receive a set amount of renewable electricity that is higher than the minimum state requirement. Alternatively, they will be given the options to receive up to 100 percent renewable energy or the state-mandated minimum.
All renewable electricity will be sourced from New England-based renewable energy projects.
“It’s far and away the most effective lever we have to have the community buy more renewable sources of power, like solar and wind,” Berwick said.
According to Berwick, Eversource will continue to be the electricity delivering utility for residents participating in Newton Power Choice. Eversource Basic Service customers will be automatically enrolled in the program, while other residents will be able to opt into the plan. Participation is not required, and residents may opt out at any time.
The first public meeting regarding Newton Power Choice was held on March 27 at Newton City Hall. Similar presentations to various citizen groups will be held throughout 2018 with the intention of providing a setting for Newton residents to offer input on the program. One particular topic of discussion mentioned on the website is the amount of excess renewable energy that should be included in the standard plan.
Berwick said that Newton Power Choice will likely be implemented in the coming fall. The Department of Public Utilities must approve the aggregation plan before it can be officially enacted.
Public response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive, with many residents receptive to the idea of a more renewable electricity supply, according to Berwick.
“People who I have spoken to are—most people—are very enthusiastic about having a city that has a way to buy more renewable electricity,” she said.
Featured Image Courtesy of masspowerchoice.com