SOUTHWICK — Implementing the town’s municipal aggregation plan may happen sooner than expected, according to a vice president with Colonial Power Group, the company the town chose to oversee the program that can save businesses and residents money on their electric bills.

“Things are moving along a lot more quickly than has happened in the past … we’re optimistic that once we get this filed, the town might be looking at an order within six month and launch at the end of 2024,” said Colonial Vice President Denise Allard during the Southwick Select Board’s March 4 meeting.

Allard said the process is moving faster because of new commissioners overseeing the state’s Department Public Utilities. Last October, Colonial had warned the program might take as long as two years to start, because of delays in the DPU approval process.

Since December, the DPU has ramped up the pace of approvals. In October, there were 22 town and cities awaiting DPU approval of their aggregation plan. In late January, only 12 towns and cities were waiting, according to the Green Energy Consumers Alliance.

In May, Town Meeting approved the article that would allow the town to develop the aggregation program. Every electrical consumer in town will be enrolled in “standard” plan at a rate that is negotiated by the Select Board, except consumers who choose to opt out of the program.

Customers will also be able to opt in to an alternative plan, which would typically include a higher share of renewable energy at a higher per-kilowatt-hour price, according to the plan.

The program doesn’t cost the town anything. Colonial Power Group makes money from the town’s electricity customers using a pre-determined formula of one-tenth of 1 cent for every kilowatt-hour used.

The Select Board, according to the plan approved by the board, can also choose  to include an additional one-tenth of 1 cent for every kilowatt-hour used to fund personnel costs that might be incurred if the town wanted to hire its own program manager.

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