By Beth Treffeisen
In an effort to make Boston a little greener, the Boston City Council on Oct. 4, voted unanimously to adopt Community Choice Energy (CCE), with the goal of increasing the consumption of renewable energy across the city.
The order, which was filed by City Council President Michelle Wu and City Councilor Matt O’Malley, calls for an aggregation plan with a new default option that includes 5 percent more renewable energy sources than minimum state standards, which currently stands at 12 percent. It also includes an opt-in option of 100-percent renewable energy.
“I don’t need to get into why climate change is real, and why we need to do this now,” said Wu at a hearing on CCE on Oct. 3. “You just need to turn on the TV The impacts are here, and they will continue to come.”
Although an increase of customer’s electricity will come from renewable energy sources, Boston residents will experience no disruption in their service, and how they handle the billing experience.
Eversource will continue to distribute energy to homes and business, administer billings and be the point person if there are any outages.
CCE will be able to go up to six percent renewable energy without an increase to the ratepayer. Boston will leverage the sheer size, with more than 200,000 accounts among businesses and residents to keep the cost stable at or below current electricity costs.
“It’s like the Costco effect,” said O’Malley. “It comes in greater bulk, but is less price because of the sheer number of product.”
In addition, as mandated for all municipal aggregation plans, Boston’s CCE plan will include an “opt-out” for any resident who wishes to remain on the Eversource basic plan.
There are also safeguards put in place to protect ratepayers. If for some reason the renewable energy sources will cost customers more money, the city can put the program on hold until it is at the same rate or below what Eversource is offering.
Currently 127 of 351 cities and towns participate in CCE in Massachusetts.
“There is no leadership coming from this President and his cabinet addressing climate change,” said O’Malley. “They are rolling back regulations and making maters much worse. It is up to cities and towns to make change.”
The CCE in Boston will have a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that is equivalent to taking 6,400 cars off of the city’s streets.
In addition to helping the city meet climate goals, CCE will also invest in the growing green energy economy. Jobs in wind and solar are growing at a rate 12 times faster than the overall economy.
“It is truly a win-win for the environmental and our economy,” said Wu.
The legislative vote is the first step in the state’s process for municipalities to develop an electricity aggregation plan. The order now goes to Mayor Martin Walsh for his signature that will be followed by the administration beginning the process of analyzing prices, soliciting bids from energy vendors, and conducting a full public process.
“Are we going sit by and say this is our new reality – stronger storms, bigger damage, higher floods- and react to it as much as we can or act ahead to change this situation?” asked Wu. “For the City Council, this is what we can do for our part today.”