WEYMOUTH - Mayor Robert Hedlund said he wants the town to pursue a municipal aggregation program to get more competitive electricity rates for residents as utility rates continue to rise.
Municipal aggregation allows cities and towns to buy energy on behalf of their residents, using the combined buying power to negotiate better deals.
"Individuals can already go to other sources on the supply side, and this allows the community to buy in bulk and residents can buy in, which gives us more buying power," Hedlund said.
Municipal aggregation programs were first introduced in 1997 with the state's deregulation of the electric grid. Hedlund was a state senator at the time, so the option has been on his radar.
National Grid would still own and operate the distribution system, but residents could get electricity from a different supplier.
"We're a little late to this compared to other municipalities, but we've seen other communities where it didn't work out as well because of the wild fluctuation of energy prices," Hedlund said.
He said the town is working with its energy consultant, Power Management, and he's seeking approval from the town council to pursue a contract to aggregate electricity. The town won't know the rates until it solicits quotes from suppliers.
"One of the things that slowed us down a little bit is, in some other communities, residents got locked in on bad prices and we wanted a program where people could opt out," Hedlund said. "That's an important feature of what we're pursuing."
With energy rates climbing, more communities are looking at electricity aggregation to save residents money. Marshfield will launch its program, called Marshfield Community Electricity, in March. Town meeting voters approved creation of the program in April 2019.
"With the cost of electricity going up, having choices for electricity supply available now is perfect timing," Marshfield Town Administrator Michael Maresco said in a news release. "This also works with Marshfield's larger Energy Resilience Plan to incorporate more renewable energy into our town to meet the state's goal to be 100% renewable energy by 2035."
Through aggregation programs, communities can pay for additional renewable energy certificates, which adds to clean energy generation.
Marshfield's program is expected to provide 10% more renewable energy certificates than required by state law. Even with the extra renewable energy certificates, the rate will be nearly 35% lower than the current Eversource residential rate of about 25.6 cents per kilowatt hour from March 2023 through December 2024.
Residents will be automatically enrolled with Direct Energy at a rate of about 16.7 cents per kilowatt hour for the 21-month period unless they opt out. Marshfield residents can learn more at electricity.marshfield-ma.gov.