The GMA program will allow the city to procure competitive electric supply on behalf of residents and businesses to provide cost savings and price stability. Eversource, the electric utility, will still be responsible for delivery but under state law (MGL c. 164 § 134), electric utility customers can choose an electric supplier (called ‘basic service’) other than their utility. The utility will continue to deliver the electricity, maintain poles and wires, and provide other customer services (e.g. the delivery portion of your electric bill).
Through the GMA program, residents and businesses who have not already selected a competitive supplier, are switched into the program automatically, with an option to opt out or switch back at any time. Advantages of a GMA could include lower prices and better price stability compared to the utility’s basic service, protection from predatory offers and reduced Green House Gas emissions via increased renewable energy supply.
Mayor Sarno, CAFO Plante and Executive Director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management (PBRM) Patrick Sullivan have been closely monitoring and reviewing possible municipal aggregation since around 2015 but were hesitant to pursue the programs available at the time due to concerns about initial lower ‘teaser rates’ that the city would be forced to lock into only for the rates to later increase and balloon to a higher rate, thus nullifying any cost savings and relief.
Mayor Sarno states, “My administration has been carefully and methodically reviewing and monitoring this issue for some time. We did not want to be locked into a ‘teaser rate’ for only a year or so only for any cost saving to be lost when the electric supply rate would balloon and increase. At the time there were many of these so called ‘fly by night’ electric suppliers that talked a good game but, in the end, and after a thorough review, did not pass the test. However, CAFO TJ Plante has provided me with an update and the programs currently offered have been further refined and we believe now is a good time to take advantage of a municipal aggregation not only for our city but just as important to provide continued utility relief for our residents and businesses. This will also create economic development spinoffs too.”
CAFO TJ Plante stated, “Working with a dedicated consultant to help the city review and realize the potential to secure long term utility relief through a green municipal aggregation plan for our residents and businesses has been a priority of Mayor Sarno for the past few years. We are confident that the Department of Public Utilities will advance our request to move forward with this green energy and cost saving initiative.”
CDO Tim Sheehan said, “The Green Municipal Aggregation program is good for the city, as well as its residents and businesses. It should be thought of as a tool that can help municipalities achieve some immediate cost efficiencies and climate action goals, as the entire grid works to break free of fossil fuels.”
PBRM Director Patrick Sullivan added, “This is great news for the residents of Springfield. Over the past eight years the city has been purchasing and locking in low rates for electric and natural gas. By procuring our utility requirements on the open market, the result has been saving the taxpayers millions of dollars in increased energy costs to operate our municipal and school buildings. Now, our residents will have the opportunity to secure lower utility rates under this program. As the global energy market continues to fluctuate, this program will allow our residents to budget and plan with a competitive utility price and stabilize their monthly utility bills.”
This announcement builds upon a previous announcement in February 2022, to purchase 100% of solar energy from the Fort River Solar 2, LLC solar array in Amherst, Massachusetts with a 10% discount rate on electricity for municipal buildings. The community solar agreement continues Springfield’s commitment to renewable energy. In 2020, Tradition helped the city eliminate a minimum of $3.7 million from its budget with a similar renewable energy purchase. Community solar in Massachusetts allows businesses, public entities, and residents to subscribe to an offsite solar project without placing solar directly on their property. The program enables the City of Springfield to reduce its retail electricity costs and realize immediate savings with no upfront cost while supporting clean, local energy. The city receives energy savings in a bill credit on their retail electric bill based on the amount of energy produced each month by their subscribed portion of the solar projects.