Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller has signed a new three-year Newton Power Choice contract that involves providing 80 percent local renewable energy sources for customers, compared to 63 percent renewable energy in the previous year’s contract.
Newton Power Choice is an electricity program from the City of Newton for residents and businesses. The City of Newton signed the first Newton Power Choice contract in 2018 and the program went into effect in March of 2019. Eversource, New England’s largest energy provider, delivers the electricity to houses and businesses.
In the new contract, customers will automatically purchase electricity at a level of 80 percent green energy. They will be able to opt up to 100% renewable energy, opt down to the state mandated 18 percent renewable energy, or choose Eversource Basic Service which involves 18 percent renewable energy. Customers can change their option from 80 percent green energy by filling out a form on the Newton Power Choice website.
“I wanted to find the right balance between, on the one hand, addressing climate change and moving Newton forward to higher renewable levels and, on the other hand, not having our residents opt out of our program because of the higher price and fully considering the challenges faced by those who are struggling financially,” Fuller said in an email update on Oct. 15.
Fuller said the price of renewable energy has quadrupled since two years ago. The price increase can be attributed to the overall cost of electricity and Eversource’s delivery charge, which is 48 percent of the total cost.
Median Newton customers that remain with the standard of 80 percent renewable energy will pay $143.25 per month for electricity in 2021. Customers who opt for the state mandated level of 18 percent green energy through Newton Power Choice will pay $127.81 per month. Customers that opt for 100 percent green energy will pay $148.23 per month.
Customers that used the median level of renewable energy of 63 percent in the past year and opt for the new median level of renewable energy of 80 percent will pay an increase of $11.86 per month.
“There are situations now with COVID where people are financially stressed,” Marcia Cooper, the Green Newton president, said. “Those people have the option to not participate in the program. They can opt down or they can opt out of the program.”
Cooper said that conserving energy is one way to bring down the cost of electricity. She said that this can be done in many ways, such as by adding insulation to your home to make it more energy efficient and using power surge protectors.
“I think that more people are trying to save money, and I think that more and more people are becoming conscious of their own impact,” Cooper said.
Fuller said that the contract’s new 80 percent level puts Newton on target to meet Newton’s Climate Action Plan for Newton Power Choice to meet 100 percent green energy by 2025.
“In order for our city to achieve the goal of the Newton Climate Action Plan these are the kinds of things that we need to do,” Cooper said. “The climate is a serious situation, and we can all play a role in making a difference.”
At 80 percent renewable energy, Newton will continue to lead the Commonwealth with the Newton Power Choice Program, as the City did last year, in providing the highest amount of local renewable energy. There are 50 cities and towns with similar programs that provide renewable energy above the mandated level. Fuller said in her update that the closest comparable contracts are Brookline with 46 percent, Watertown with 51 percent, and Lowell with 61 percent.
“I think so many young people in our community are worried as can be about climate change, and it’s a real threat,” Cooper said. “I think that we can’t drag our feet anymore and that we have to take more rapid action, you know, to make changes within our local community, the state, and in the nation, and around the world.”
Featured Image by Keara Hanlon/for The Heights