By John Anderson
At last night’s meeting of the Auburn Wind Turbine & Alternative Energy Committee, two presentations were made about Community Choice Aggregation Programs (CCAPs). Brian Murphy, President of Colonial Power Group in Marlborough, spoke first and gave a thorough explanation of the process.
CCAPs came about because of the increasing costs of buying electricity from utilities like National Grid, which is expected to have a residential rate of $0.16273 per Kilowatt Hour (kWh) by winter. A typical single family home uses about 1,000 kWh each month for a cost of $162.73. Add on the delivery charge of $0.071187 per kWh, and consumers face a monthly bill of about $234.00.
CCAPs don’t affect the delivery charge since National Grid still maintains the poles, wires and service connections. The only way a customer can reduce this fee is to use less electricity or install a solar array.
State regulations require electric utilities to purchase electricity twice a year, March and September, for the subsequent 6 months. They do no care about rates, because they simply pass it on to their customers. Brokers like Colonial Power look for the best rates for their customers and make their money by adding $0.001 for each kWh sold.
National Grid would continue to bill for all services, but there would be a different listed supplier. If a CCAP is authorized by the Town Manager (Town Meeting already voted to give her this authority), National Grid would mail each of their local customers the information. People who already use another supplier would not get this mailing, but could still enroll.
Murphy said, “This is a town-owned program” and it is opt-out. So, if a resident doesn’t opt out, he will get electricity at a better price. If someone already has solar panels, they would buy electricity at the reduced price when needed but would sell excess electricity back to National Grid at the full price. Not a bad deal!
After town approval, the program must be submitted to the State, and “that’s when things slow down” according to Murphy. A new program will take 5-7 months to fully implement, so saving money this winter is not possible. Realistically, having the program ready for next fall makes sense because electricity is more expensive in the winter months.
Colonial Power is running programs for 18 municipalities, and current savings are about $0.04 per kWh. So, that single-family household is saving about $40.00 each month or $240.00 from mid-fall through mid-spring.
The second presentation was by Bernard Kubiak of the Hampshire Council of Governments (HCOG) which was formed in 1999 to help cities and towns with functions that were previously performed by county government. HCOG is not only an electricity broker but they are also a supplier.
HCOG has electricity contracts with 39 cities and towns including 8 in Worcester County. Of Colonial Power’s 18 customers, HCOG supplies the electricity for 13.
HCOG is a government agency, but their offerings are virtually the same as Colonial Power Group. Both will help the town set up the program, administer the program including customer service, protect customer’s information, and save residents some money.
The Wind Turbine & Alternative Energy Committee also voted to send the Board of Selectmen a letter urging them not to accept the $1 million donation for the purchase of the Southold Road property. Jack Barkus made the motion due to the restrictions placed on the property by the donor.