Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
Twelve towns in Franklin County and one in Hampshire County have come together to form a municipal electricity aggregation program with the goal of combating climate change and providing residents with more renewable energy options.
The 13 towns – Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Deerfield, Gill, Huntington, New Salem, Northfield, Shelburne, Sunderland, Warwick and Whately – recently entered into a 41-month contract with municipal energy consultant Colonial Power Group to develop and manage the Community Choice Power Supply Program, with Dynegy Energy Services to supply electricity.
The aggregation program allows the towns to purchase electricity as a group, giving them greater bargaining power when selecting their supplier. The towns were able to select a range of different renewable energy products to offer their residents, with each town deciding its own default option from the portfolio assembled through the bidding process.
“It’s something that would be very difficult for a tiny town to do, but because we could get multiple towns together, we could make it work,” said Conway Selectboard Member Bob Armstrong, who leads the project. “We were able to get a bid that was lower cost than Eversource, and which offered more green options – something that we had promised the towns.”
The aggregation program officially started on Aug. 1, with multiple towns reporting a 90% participation rate among residents.
Armstrong said the towns’ transition to a new energy source has been smooth.
“I suspect that if anyone opened their bill, they would not even know that something had changed,” he said.
The project was not always easy, however. The labor-intensive process took more than four years.
“Communication is a big thing,” said Northfield Town Administrator Andrea Llamas. “In a small town, you have to pass it through at town meeting, so communicating to people why you are doing aggregation is really important. Then there is a lapse of years between the time they vote to participate and when they get a postcard in the mail about switching, so routine communication is vital.”
After passing the proposal through town meetings, the Franklin County towns applied for grant funding and hired the Franklin Regional COG to help them evaluate different municipal energy consultants.
“We were lucky to have the FRCOG to step up and help us with the beginning steps,” said Llamas. “But the consultant, once we had them, handled the process.”
Armstrong remains an advocate for aggregation.
“I would encourage all towns to consider it,” he said. “Don’t hesitate to do it, even though it is a lot of work.”
For more information, contact Bob Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Elisa Sturkie