UPDATED: Watertown Electrical Customers Moving to New Green Energy Program in Fall

Watertown’s new electricity plan will get half its energy from renewable sources, such as solar panels.

NOTE: A fourth informational meeting has been added, see details below:

In September, Watertown residents will be transitioned to the Town’s new Electricity Choice Program, which gets half its power from renewable sources. Customers have a choice to opt out of the program, or to get a greater percentage of green electricity.

The new renewable energy contract will be part of the state’s Community Choice Aggregation program. In May, the Town Council gave Town Manager Michael Driscoll the authority to approve a contract with a greater amount of renewable energy that required by the state.

Most residents will be automatically enrolled in the new plan. Later this summer, the Town will host three informational events where residents and other customers can learn more about the program.

The Town of Watertown sent out the following information press release:

The Town of Watertown announced that it has entered into a contract to buy electricity for the Watertown Electricity Choice program, which will launch in September 2019.

Watertown Electricity Choice is a municipal electricity aggregation, which is a group buy program for electricity supply. Massachusetts State law allows cities and towns to aggregate electricity customers within their borders and select an electricity supplier on behalf of those customers, rather than having Eversource buy their electricity. Municipal aggregations are heavily regulated by the State and offer many consumer protections not available with private for-profit programs.

Watertown Electricity Choice will increase the amount of renewable energy in Watertown’s electricity supply, providing an additional 35 percent renewable electricity over and above the state required minimum amount. With the increasing State renewable energy requirement Watertown Electricity Choice will provide over 50 percent local renewable energy in its first full year going up to 53 percent in the last year of the contract. Every 1 percent increase in renewable energy in Watertown’s residential electrical supply will offset the carbon emissions of an average passenger car driving over a million miles!

Watertown Electricity Choice will significantly decrease Watertown’s carbon footprint leading toward a cleaner, healthier environment. It will drive more renewable energy generation and jobs in our area. Programs of this type provide the potential of modest savings to customers over the program duration, although savings cannot be guaranteed as future Eversource rates are unknown.

Another advantage of Watertown Electricity Choice will be price stability for 27 months. Prices will be fixed from September 2019 – December 2021. The long duration of the price makes Watertown Electricity Choice different from Eversource’s Basic Service, which offers prices that change every 6 months for residential and small business customers and every 3 months for large business customers. It also makes Watertown Electricity Choice different from many electricity supply offers available in the marketplace, which can offer a low introductory price that rises after the introductory period is over.

Watertown Electricity Choice participants will see just two changes on their Eversource electricity bill: 1) The Watertown Electricity Choice price will be used to calculate the supply charges on their bill, and 2) Direct Energy will be listed as their electricity supplier. Otherwise, nothing else will change. Watertown Electricity Choice participants will remain Eversource customers, and Eversource will remain responsible for delivering their electricity and for addressing power outages. Watertown Electricity Choice participants will continue to receive and pay just one electricity bill from Eversource, and this will be the only electricity bill they receive as participants in Watertown Electricity Choice.

Watertown Electricity Choice will offer residential and business electricity customers new electricity supply choices with some important advantages. Chief among those advantages is that the Watertown Electricity Choice Standard Offering will provide 35 percent renewable electricity in addition to the state-required minimum amount of 14 percent for 2019. In comparison, Eversource provides just the state-required minimum amount of 14 percent. The Standard Offering is the default program offering and will be available for 11.494 cents/kWh.

In addition to the default Standard Offering, Watertown Electricity Choice will also provide two other options:

  • Those who wish to make a more significant commitment to the environment may choose the 100 percent Green option, which will provide 100 percent local renewable electricity for 12.718 cents/kWh.
  • Those who do not want any additional renewable electricity may choose the Basic option, which will provide only the state-required 14% amount of renewable electricity for 10.654 cents/kWh.

Watertown Electricity Choice participants will be automatically enrolled in the Standard Offering unless they opt out of the program entirely, or choose the 100 percent Green or Basic options.

In compliance with Massachusetts state law for municipal electricity aggregations, enrollment in Watertown Electricity Choice will be automatic for Watertown electricity customers on Eversource’s Basic Service, which includes any electricity customer who has not signed an agreement with an electricity supplier. Most electricity customers in Watertown will be automatically enrolled. However, participation is not required, and Watertown electricity customers will be able to opt out before being enrolled. If they do participate in the program, they can also opt out at any time, penalty free.

Those who are eligible for automatic enrollment will receive a letter in the mail in July with program information and instructions for opting out or opting up. Enrollment will occur with September 2019 meter reads and will be seamless. Participants can expect to see the Watertown Electricity Choice price on their Eversource electricity bill beginning in October 2019. This informational letter and envelope will have the Town logo on it so you can be assured it is from the Town-sponsored program. The return address under the Town logo will be C/O Direct Energy because enrollment options will be handled by Direct Energy, our electricity supplier.

Electricity customers who have already signed an agreement with an electricity supplier other than Eversource will not receive a letter and will not be automatically enrolled, but they may obtain more information about joining Watertown Electricity Choice by contacting the Town’s program consultants at support@watertownchoice.com or 1-844-278-9864.

Electricity customers who are eligible for discounts from Eversource, such as a low-income discount, will continue to receive those same benefits as a participant in Watertown Electricity Choice. Customers with solar panels on their property will continue to receive net metering credits as a participant in Watertown Electricity Choice, and those credits will continue to be calculated based on Eversource’s Basic Service price, not on the Watertown Electricity Choice price. Tax-exempt accounts will need to submit tax exemption documentation to the Watertown Electricity Choice electricity supplier, Direct Energy, to retain tax-exempt status.

Public information sessions to provide an opportunity for the community to ask questions about the program will be held on:

  • July 24th, 2:30-6:30 p.m. at the Watertown Farmers Market (Saltonstall Park) – booth for questions
  • July 27th, noon at the Watertown Free Public Library – formal presentation / Q&A
  • August 1st, 7:00 p.m. at the Watertown Free Public Library – formal presentation / Q&A
  • August 6th, 10:00 a.m. at the Watertown Senior Center – formal presentation / Q&A

For more information about any aspect of Watertown Electricity Choice, visit website WatertownChoice.com or contact the Town’s program consultants at 1-844-278-9864 or support@watertownchoice.com.

6 thoughts on “UPDATED: Watertown Electrical Customers Moving to New Green Energy Program in Fall

  1. Why were the informational meetings planned after we got the letter from Tulsa, Oklahoma?
    Also , why do we have to opt out to maintain our rights?
    Another question, who planned this?

  2. Your electricity still comes from the same sources. Your payments will get earmarked for “greener” more expensive production.

  3. I have the same concerns as Alice.
    Also – it looks like we will be paying more if we don’t take action to Opt out.
    I’m sure it’s done with the best intentions but It’s extremely inappropriate, in a free choice society to do something like make a choice for us and then say that if you don’t like it then you have to make an effort to change it. Further, it no doubt is an expense to opt out which somebody has to pay for and we all know who ends up paying for things.
    I’m all for renewable energy but I don’t know that it’s yet a mature enough industry to be cost effective to the average rate paying citizen. I am not convinced this is a smart idea at this time. I also believe someone is making some big money on this change and it’s not the rate payers.

    • The basic plan that residents will be placed into automatically will actually be a bit cheaper than the Eversource rates over the next year. The rates will remain the same over the duration of the Town’s contract. Here are the rates, provided by the Town’s Energy Manager, Ed Lewis.

      WEC Rates

      Default – 11.494 cents/kWh

      100% green – 12.718 cents/kWh

      Basic – 10.654 cents/kWh

      Eversource – 10.836 thru December 2019, changes in January (unknown, but for reference the 2019 winter rate was 13.588 cents/kWh.

  4. Charlie, I think you are wrong about the plan that residences get put into unless they opt out. From looking and reading the information that I got, it looks like all will be put in the Standard Offering which is actually higher than what we are paying now.

    Standard Offering is 11.49 while the current rate we are paying with Eversource is 10.83

    The plan that looks the best to me is the Basic Option Plan that is 10.65, which is less than both but less renewable energy.

    I do agree with the others that say the town has no right in deciding this for us then putting the burden on us to “Opt Out” by calling. Many will ignore the pamphlet thinking they don’t want to sign up and when they do that they will actually be signing up by default.

    • The summer Eversource rates are lower, but they tend to be a few cents higher in the winter. Overall the rate should be a bit lower. This is coming from Watertown’s Energy Manager who helped put together the program.

      Here is the info they provided. Note that the winter rates are not out yet.
      Eversource – 10.836 thru December 2019, changes in January (unknown, but for reference the 2019 winter rate was 13.588 cents/kWh.

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