Energy Panel Advocates Renewables as the Less Costly Choice

November 7, 2022

Members of the town’s Energy and Sustainability Committee are looking forward to special town meeting on Monday, Nov. 14. 

But that’s not so much about the warrant. Committee members, said Chair Emily Prince, will be at the entrance to the Bedford High School gymnasium handing out material and answering questions about the advantages of community choice aggregation. An electronic code will give residents the opportunity to upgrade their proportion of renewables on the spot, she added.

Under Bedford’s community choice aggregation, electricity customers are automatically enrolled in an option called Bedford Local Green. The default breakdown is 42 percent of electricity emanating from renewables: 22 percent is the state requirement for all utilities, and Bedford’s program adds another 20.

Customers can opt out of the community choice program entirely and pay Eversource. Historically this has been a less costly option.

Or consumers can choose to increase the proportion of renewables, to 50 or 100 percent. This has meant paying more for electricity while helping reduce the use of fossil fuels and their impact on the environment.

But the formula has flipped.

In recent weeks experts have predicted steep increases in electricity bills because of the spiraling cost of the natural gas and oil used for power generation. 

Solar and wind are not more expensive. That “certainly helps with price stability right now, and a cost savings for everyone in the program at any of the levels,” Prince observed. Karen Willson, a member of the climate advocacy group Mothers Out Front, added that even now, 100 percent renewables is already less expensive than power from fossil fuels, via Eversource.

As of Sept. 30, Prince reported, there were 4,246 residential enrollments out of 5,286 households, but only 144 at the 100 percent renewables level.

“Most people really want to reduce their carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions,” Willson said. “It turns out that the way you power your home is one of the most impactful ways you can, and 100 percent renewable energy is a very important upgrade to make.”  

Renu Bostwick of Mothers Out Front said she would prefer a default percentage of 100, from which ratepayers could opt for a lower amount.

Prince pointed out that rates will change in 2025 when the town renews its contract. “Eversource rates fluctuate and are fixed for six months at a time so participating in the CCA program provides stable electricity prices at competitive rates and the opportunity to power your home with local renewable energy,” she said.

[11/8/2022 Editor’s Note: Karen Willson and Renu Bostwick were originally stated as being on the Energy and Sustainability Committee. They are members of Mothers Out Front.]

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