Community Choice Electricity reduces greenhouse gas emissions and electricity costs
(Somerville Wire) – The Somerville Community Choice Electricity program, one facet of Somerville’s wide-ranging response to climate change, has been renewed for the next two years.
Launched in 2017, the CCE program allows residents and businesses to increase the share of zero-carbon renewable energy from regional sources that’s used to provide their electricity. Now Somerville has renewed its CCE program for another two years, with new contract prices starting on Nov. 1.
Most Somerville residents already participate in the program. If your electricity bill says, “Your electric supplier is: Direct Energy City of Somerville,” you are enrolled. Current program participants do not need to take any action. They will automatically receive the new pricing as of Nov. 1.
CCE participants continue to get their electricity and bills directly from Eversource. The only change is the source and cost of electricity supply, chosen by the City of Somerville through a competitive bidding process.
“Using strategic purchasing, combined with the bulk purchasing power of thousands of households and businesses in the program, Somerville CCE provides competitive, stable rates,” according to the program’s website. It notes that “savings compared to Eversource Basic Service cannot be guaranteed because Basic Service prices change every six months for residential and commercial customers,” while CCE pricing is guaranteed through December 2024.
Renters who pay for electricity are eligible to enroll in the program without approval from their landlord, since there is no installation, upfront costs, or maintenance required. Enrolled residents can opt out of the program or change plans at any time with no penalty or fee. Residents who are eligible for Eversource’s budget plan or low-income delivery rate will continue to receive those benefits from the utility.
Residents can select from three different options with varying levels of renewable energy and cost. The most popular of the options is CCE’s default plan, “Local Green.” Through July 2022, Local Green saved participants nearly $11 million, compared to Eversource Basic Service, while also containing more renewable energy.
Somerville’s new contract doubles the amount of voluntary renewable energy in Local Green, which will now provide 40-44 percent zero-carbon renewable energy from regional sources. The 100% Local Green option provides completely zero-carbon, regionally produced renewable energy, while the Somerville Basic option matches the state-mandated minimum requirement for renewable energy.
Products described as green are certified by the Commonwealth and come only from solar, wind, anaerobic digestion, and low-impact hydro located within New England.
“Many of us want to do more to fight climate change but aren’t sure about how we personally can make an impact,” Mayor Katjana Ballantyne stated in a press release for the program last month. “Well, one important and easy step for Somerville renters, businesses, and homeowners is to use Somerville’s Community Choice Electricity. This City-supported program helps you support the shift to clean energy and the creation of green energy jobs close to home, and that’s a great way to help build a more sustainable future.”
The CCE program is overseen by the Office of Sustainability and Environment, whose “objective is to make Somerville a leader in reducing energy usage and costs, minimizing environmental impacts and waste, and addressing global climate change, resulting in a healthy and enjoyable environment for the residents of Somerville,” according to its website.
The OSE is also responsible for overseeing Somerville Climate Forward, the city’s first comprehensive climate action plan, which was implemented in 2018 and is updated each year with the latest climate science, technologies, and community trends. The plan includes policies, programs, and strategies to reduce Somerville’s contribution to climate change, prepare the city for the unavoidable impacts of climate change, and work to alleviate the inequitable burdens of climate change.
Emily Sullivan, Climate Change Program Manager in the OSE, stated at the Ward 6 community meeting last week that her department is seeking input to update the climate plan. “We’re really looking forward to getting some good community participation. We want feedback on how the city’s doing, in terms of its greenhouse gas reduction goals and climate adaptation,” she said.
One way to get involved is to join the Somerville Climate Forward Ambassadors program, which began in 2019 and is being started up again in 2023.
“The Ambassadors Program is an opportunity for residents who are interested in learning more about climate action to participate in a group setting where you learn more about what’s happening at a global scale, a state scale, a local scale. We hear from experts on different topics of climate action, and then ambassadors have a final project that they work on together, either in a group or independently, and then they present it back to city staff, and it has the opportunity to be implemented into some city programming,” Sullivan said.
“This year, a really big focus of the ambassador program will be the Somerville Climate Forward update,” she added.
Applications for the Climate Forward Ambassador Program will be opened later in November and due in December. Classes in the program will run from January to June 2023.
For more information on Somerville’s climate initiatives, you can sign up for the City’s Sustainaville newsletter.
Photo credit: Eversource Substation in Union Square, Somerville. Photo by Linda Pinkow. Copyright 2022 Linda Pinkow.
Linda Pinkow is a reporter for the Somerville Wire. She is also a development consultant for the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.