Massachusetts residents’ rights to opt-in to electricity suppliers that provide renewable energy may be stripped away in the newly-introduced S.2842, which is pitched as a climate change focused bill.
Buried in the bill in section 54 is the language, “beginning on January 1, 2023, no supplier… shall execute a new contract or renew an existing contract for generation services with any individual residential retail customer.”
The provision is viewed as an anti-competitive move that re-establishes monopoly utility control in the state. The ban would take a significant amount of renewables off the market, forcing customers back to their default electricity supplier, such as utilities National Grid and Eversource. This comes just as the two are scheduled to increase their retail electricity rates.
More than three-quarters of the competitive electricity supply contracts available to Massachusetts residents are 100% renewable energy products. Nearly 20% of renewable generation is already under contract and will be removed if this language is included in the final draft of the bill. Utilities are only mandated to supply 51% renewable energy in Massachusetts, meaning the bill could jeopardize clean energy goals for the state.
An online survey of 800 Massachusetts residents conducted on behalf of Clean Choice Energy found that residents overwhelmingly support the option to choose alternative suppliers. The survey found 83% of respondents want the freedom to choose clean energy for their homes, 79% want to be able to choose their supplier, and 73% would be interested in 100% clean energy contracts if given the option. Alternative energy suppliers are more popular than rooftop solar, with 74% of respondents voicing interest in the option, versus 50% of respondents saying they are interested in rooftop residential solar.
In 2021 alone, nearly half a million Massachusetts residents, about 7% of the state’s population, chose a different energy source than their default utility. Many shop for competitive clean energy on the state website Energy Switch Massachusetts.
“Nearly 500,000 Massachusetts households already voted with their wallets, and most are accelerating the purchase of renewable energy – an option that Senate Bill 2842 (S. 2842) would take away,” said Christopher Ercoli, president and chief executive officer of the Retail Energy Advancement League. “When retail energy suppliers compete for your business, they have the incentive to offer better rates and service – not treat you like a captive ratepayer who pays whatever the utility mandates.”
Though the bill is pitched as a climate-change combatant, the anti-competitive provision removes a market for solar and wind energy developers, thereby potentially slowing the buildout of clean energy in the state. It goes in direct contrast with the will of Massachusetts residents, who have overwhelmingly supported the freedom to choose.
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