Massachusetts residents’ rights to opt-in to alternative electricity suppliers that provide renewable energy will be retained in the newly revised S.2842, a climate change focused bill. The original draft of the bill had language that would have removed the ability to choose an alternative supplier for their energy, forcing many customers to return to their default utility company.
Thousands of Massachusetts residents signed a petition and gave personal testimony that they would like to see this provision stricken from the bill, citing the desire to have personal choice, more access to renewable energy, and to prevent monopoly control by utilities like National Grid and Eversource.
“For those of us who are committed to buying 100% renewable energy, closing the market would be a HUGE step backwards for Massachusetts,” wrote Daniel J. of Beverly, Mass. in the petition.
Now, lawmakers have decided to strip the language that eliminates this market, which nearly half a million Massachusetts households accessed in 2021.
Currently, three-quarters of the products offered in the retail energy choice market are 100% renewable energy contracts. Massachusetts law currently only mandates utilities to supply 51% renewable energy, meaning the bill could have stood in the way of clean energy goals for the state.
“The proposed closure of the competitive energy market was at odds with the intent of this climate bill, as more than three quarters of the retail market offerings are 100% clean energy products with additional innovative products supporting energy efficiency measures and offering discounted residential electric vehicle charging,” said Chris Ercoli, President and CEO of the Retail Energy Advancement League.
“We appreciate lawmakers acting on behalf of almost half a million Massachusetts customers who currently shop the market by removing this language and we look forward to continued conversations on how to best expand choice while protecting the consumer as Massachusetts leads in our transition to a clean energy future,” said Ercoli.
In a recent survey, 83% of Bay Staters said they want energy choice and to shop the market as an option. Massachusetts residents interested in shopping for alternate supply contracts can log on to the state Department of Public Utilities’ website, “Energy Switch Massachusetts,” and review terms of different suppliers.
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Way to go, Massachusetts! There are other states that should follow your example.
I do have some questions, though. Typically these third party suppliers use extremely deceptive and sometimes even predatory marketing practices, and often customers pay much more than they would have on their basic utility rate. In my area, National Grid also offers an “opt up” option to 100% renewable for a small additional cost per kWh, so it’s not as if taking away these 3rd party suppliers HAS to decrease renewables. Also, many communities participate in municipal aggregation programs, some of which include higher percentages of renewables in the default option, and many of which (if not all) offer an “opt up” option to 100% renewables. Rates are locked in for the duration of the contract, which can be up to three years, and there is no early termination fee to opt out, unlike with these 3rd party suppliers. I feel like this article ignores all of those factors. How will consumers be protected from these predatory practices?
Maybe Congress needs to pass some legislation to help stop them like they need to do with the fossil-fuel industry’s consumer price-gouging and windfall profiteering off the Russian’s attack and war on Ukraine.
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