Northborough considers electric aggregation program


Northborough considers electric aggregation program
Northborough Town Hall is located on Main Street. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

NORTHBOROUGH – The town is considering implementing a program to purchase the supply of electricity for town residents.

During the Jan. 23 meeting, Selectman Julianne Hirsh asked if municipal aggregation could be placed on an agenda.

“The electric bills are a big concern in town,” she said.

According to Assistant Town Administrator Becca Meekins, in the late 1990s, the state passed an energy restructuring act that allowed municipalities to aggregate the consumers’ electric load.

This means the electricity would be purchased in bulk at lower rates on behalf of residents, and the community could control the cost of the supply of electricity for residents, she said during the Feb. 13 Board of Selectmen meeting.

“This provides some stability in the rates,” Meekins said. “As you know, basic rates under the utility companies fluctuate twice a year. They’re very volatile. They’re subject to markets overseas, etcs.”

According to a memo from Meekins to the selectmen, participation in the aggregation program is not required, and residents would have the option to opt-out.


The town previously began this process in 2016 when Town Meeting approved electric aggregation.

After the vote, several communities that already had agreements in place with suppliers experienced “challenges,” Meekins wrote in her memo.

“Many of those third-party suppliers struggled to remain solvent after signing contracts with municipalities for substantially lower rates than the national supplier rates, and as a result had to renege on their agreements with municipalities,” she wrote.

Because of the uncertainty, Northborough decided not to move forward.

That vote is still valid, Meekins told the selectmen.

The next step would be for the Board of Selectmen to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to seek consulting services to assist the town with developing an aggregation plan that would adhere to standards from the state Department of Public Utilities (DPU) and Department of Energy Resources. Ultimately, Northborough’s plan would go before the DPU for approval before the town could receive bids for an Electric Service Agreement.

According to Meekins’ memo, the agreement and solicitation would include details on the plan, including renewable energy options.

The agreement would be executed by the town, and the adoption of the new rate would be coordinated with an existing energy supplier. There would be a mandatory opt-out period before the program could launch, which would include mailers sent out to all residents to give them a chance to decline participation, the memo said.


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