Newton Power Choice, a municipal aggregation program that provides 60 percent of its electricity from renewable sources – mainly wind and solar – went into effect in March.

The program’s renewable sources rate is more than four times what is required by state law. Of the estimated 140 municipal aggregation programs in the state, Newton now has the highest percentage from renewable sources.

“We were looking at the increasing understanding by all of us about the real impact of climate change,” said Mayor Ruthanne Fuller, “and all of us cities and towns are looking at how we make a difference, with transportation, heating, electric, solid waste, etc.”

Newton Power Choice reduces the rates customers were previously paying, and guarantees customers a stable price for 22 months.

Development of the program began last fall, when the city tested the market to get the best rates so the program could provide a savings to customers. The work culminated with a signed contract last November.

“We had figured out the source of our greenhouse gas emissions, and 23 percent of the total emissions per year are from electric use,” Fuller said. “We were careful about the timing of when we went out for the contract, so it can be cost-saving and make a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a real win win.”

The city’s electric utility, Eversource, will continue to deliver electricity and bill customers, but Newton Power Choice chooses its suppliers. Customers are automatically entered into the program at the 60 percent renewables level, but they can opt to go up to 100 percent, down to the state minimum 14 percent, or out of the program entirely. Customers can leave or join the program at any time without penalty.

“We’ve had a very positive response,” Fuller said. “About an equal number of residents have opted up to the 100 percent option as those who have opted out. The vast majority are sticking with the 60 percent package.

“Newton is leading the way in making a difference, and I’m thrilled that we could make this happen.”

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