EASTHAMPTON — A plan to provide electricity via a municipal aggregation plan is now available for Easthampton’s residents to review and offer feedback on. The plan, which will allow customers to choose electricity supplied by the city of Easthampton, will allow Easthampton to use sustainable methods of creating electricity and, hopefully, lower rates for residents.

“With this program, Easthampton will source the electricity supply, and Eversource will handle the delivery of that power supply, so customers would continue to receive a single bill from Eversource, and the supply section of the bill would show the price secured by Easthampton,” explained Lindsi Sekula, executive assistant to the mayor.

Until July 6, residents can review the plan and provide feedback to the mayor via a public hearing on June 24 at 6 p.m. at City Hall and remotely, as well as via email to the mayor at mayor@easthamptonma.gov or via an online form at the program’s website www.easthamptoncommunityelectricity.com.

“Community Electricity will enable Easthampton to offer new electricity options that can help our city insulate residents from volatile electricity markets while also increasing renewable energy use and combating climate change,” added Sekula. “While financial savings cannot be guaranteed, such programs often provide competitively priced, stable electricity costs and cleaner energy with more renewables. Community electricity programs have a strong track record in Massachusetts, with over 170 cities and towns running active programs.”

After the public review period, the Department of Energy Resources will review it and then it will be submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities for approval. After approval, the city will look to launch it, which may happen as soon as early 2025.

The program has been in the works since early 2021 when Jamie Paquette, current chair of the Energy Advisory Committe brought up the idea of aggregation.

“It seemed like a great way for us as a city to directly support renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions, in line with our overall goals to combat the climate crisis,” recalled Paquette.

The city started speaking with Good Energy, a renewable energy company in June 2021 and the city council passed a resolution in September 2021 calling for moving toward a sustainable energy environment in Easthampton.

“I became chair of the committee in October 2021 and with the mayor’s support, we began the process of putting together a plan and the aggregation resolution that the city council passed in April 2022,” said Paquette. “Since that time we have been working on the draft plan and awaiting updates processes and guidelines from DPU that would speed up their review and approval process. Come municipalities have recently been waiting as long as 3 or more years for DPU to review and approve their plans. DPU is now committed to an improved and speedier process and we look forward to being able to move more quickly through that part of the process once we complete the current review period and revise our plan as needed from there.”

The program will be voluntary and residents can opt-out at any time. Any customer who is eligible for enrollment will receive motification when the program launches.

“The opt-out structure allows the Community Electricity program to have the buying power and load certainty needed to attract competitive bids from qualified electricity suppliers,” noted Sekula. “Easthampton’s program will offer multiple electricity supply options. The default supply option aims to be a win-win both economically and environmentally: the goal is to offer cleaner electricity than required by the state and provide a more stable and competitive price.”

“The Energy Advisory Committee very much appreciates all the support we have received thus far from the mayor, the city council and the planning department,” added Paquette. “The Energy Advisory Committee is a fully volunteer group, but we are working on a number of big projects and initiatives. So much credit goes to our committee members — Connie Dawson, John Pepi, Cassie Eckhof and Josh Rosenblatt — for their efforts, and also a huge thanks to Cassie Tragert, our liaison from the Planning Department who has tirelessly worked on so much of this for us and with us.”

Tina Lesniak
+ posts