Direct Energy to power Boston Community Choice Electricity program


Direct Energy, a renewables and energy-related service provider, plans to expand its offering to over 200,000 households and businesses as the new supplier of Boston Community Choice Electricity (BCCE). The program allows the city to purchase clean electricity in bulk from a competitive supplier (Direct Energy) to service Boston residents.

The default service offered by BCCE provides an estimated savings of about 15% when compared with traditional Boston utilities.

Community choice programs, sometimes called community choice aggregation (CCA), defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are programs that allow local governments to procure electric power on behalf of their residents, businesses, and municipal accounts from an alternative supplier while still receiving grid services from their utility. The benefit of these programs is that they help communities exercise control over their electricity sources, demand more green power and negotiate lower electricity prices. Demand aggregation gives communities greater leverage when conducting these negotiations.

The initiative is central to the city’s Climate Action Plan, which aims to make Boston carbon neutral by 2025 by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and energy supply systems, in addition to buildings.

The three products offered under the BCCE include the Optional Basic Program, which costs about $0.14/kWh and gives customers 24% renewable energy. The Standard (default) service costs about $0.15/kWh and provides 39% renewable energy. Lastly, the Optional Green 100 tier costs $0.17/kWh and offers users 100% renewable energy. All offerings are available through December 2025.

The default service and Optional Green 100 tier provide customers with more renewable energy electricity at a lower cost than Boston’s Basic Service; this includes utilities such as Eversource, National Grid and Unitil.

According to the official website of the City of Boston, Eversource recently filed its proposed new Residential Basic Service rate ($0.17/kWh) and Small Business rate (about $0.18/kWh) with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. While the rates came into effect at the start of this year, BCCE’s default offering offers a 15% lower rate while providing consumers 62.5% more Massachusetts Class I renewable power. The latter includes electricity generated from solar panels, solar thermal electric and wind energy facilities that started operating after 1997.

Moreover, the Optional Green 100 provides 100% Massachusetts Class I renewable electricity to consumers, which Direct Energy states is more than three times the state’s annual Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) for utilities provided at a cheaper rate. The Database for State Incentives and Renewables Efficiency lists Massachusetts Class I RPS for utilities as being 40% renewable by 2030 and increasing by 1% yearly after that.

Users who subscribe to the service can join BCCE by calling Eversource, asking them to remove their supply block, then enrolling in the program online. Previous BCCE customers looking to opt out of the program or move up or down tiers can do so anytime. Residents who don’t opt out of the program are automatically registered to receive the default product. Moreover, new BCCE customers will receive a mailed notification each quarter, which allows them to switch tiers or opt-out.

Direct Energy is one of North America’s largest electricity and natural gas suppliers, among other energy services. Moreover, the organization states it operates in eight provinces in Canada and all 50 states, including the District of Columbia. The company reports that it has almost 4 million customer relationships and 3,000 employees. 

Read more about community choice programs here.

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