Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about Bellingham Power Choice? Review the list of frequently asked questions below.

Still don’t see your answer? Submit your question to our customer support team.

General program information

What is the Bellingham Power Choice Program?

The Bellingham Power Choice Program is a municipal electricity aggregation, a form of group electricity purchasing.

Typically, your electric utility, National Grid or Eversource, provides two sets of services to you:

  1. They deliver your electricity (Massachusetts electric utilities are electricity delivery companies only). Delivery services appear on your electric bill as Delivery Charges.
  2. They also supply your electricity, which means they buy electricity for you and pass the cost along to you. The cost of the electricity they buy for you appears on your electric bill as Supply Charges.

But in Massachusetts, there are actually three ways to purchase your electricity:

  • Your utility can do it for you, as just described. This is called Basic Service, and this is how you buy your electricity when you first open your account.
  • You can sign a contract with an electricity supplier yourself. You may have received offers in the mail or over the phone.
  • Your municipal government can sign a contract with an electricity supplier on your behalf. This third option is municipal electricity aggregation, and this is what Bellingham Power Choice is. Bellingham has signed a contract with NextEra Energy.

If you participate in Bellingham Power Choice, your electric utility (National Grid or Eversource) delivers your electricity, but NextEra will appear on your electric bill as your electricity supplier and your electric utility will use the Bellingham Power Choice price to calculate the Supply Charges on your electric bill instead of their own Basic Service price.

Bellingham Power Choice provides an alternative both to your electric utility’s Basic Service prices and to other electricity supply offers in the marketplace.

Someone came to my door/called me about an electricity program. Do they represent National Grid, Eversource. or Bellingham Power Choice?

No. If you receive a personal call or visit about your electricity, that person does not represent the Town of Bellingham, Bellingham Power Choice, National Grid, or Eversource. Neither the utilities nor the Town will visit your home or call you. Any communication by the Town or your electric utility is done by mail. All mail from the Town will bear the Town Seal and all mail from your electric utility will bear the utility logo.

If you receive a visit or call from someone who wants to discuss your electricity, here are three things to keep in mind:

  • The person you are speaking with is not associated with National Grid, Eversource, the Town of Bellingham, or Bellingham Power Choice.
  • You should treat your electricity account number like you treat your credit card information. Do not give it out unless you want to purchase your electricity from someone.
  • You do have the right to select an electricity supplier of your choice. If you choose to explore this option, please check the terms of the supply contract carefully. Things to check for include: minimum bill amounts, contract length requirements, early termination fees, low introductory rates that change after the introductory period ends, and rates that vary.

If you feel a salesperson has fraudulently identified themself as working for an electric utility or the Town of Bellingham, please report it to the Department of Public Utilities Consumer Division at 617-737-2836, or DPUConsumer.Complaints@state.ma.us.

How long will the program last?

The Town of Bellingham will continue the program as long as it is providing value.

The current electricity supply contract ends in December 2022. Bellingham signed a new electricity supply contract that will be in effect from the conclusion of the current contract until December 2023. All program participants received a letter about the contract change and price changes and will be seamlessly transitioned to the same program option under the new contract.

Who do I call when the power goes out?

National Grid customers: Call National Grid as always. National Grid will continue to deliver your electricity and maintain the poles and wires.

Eversource customers: Call Eversource as always. Eversource will continue to deliver your electricity and maintain the poles and wires.

Will I receive a lower quality of service from National Grid or Eversource if I participate in this program?

No. The quality of service to you will be unaffected by your participation in Bellingham Power Choice. Your electric utility does not profit from the Supply Charges on your electric bill. They pass electricity Supply Charges along to you with no markup. They make their profit from the Delivery Charges. As a result, they have no preference whether they choose your electricity supplier or Bellingham does.

I have a tax-exempt account. How can I retain my account's tax-exempt status, and where do I send my tax-exemption documentation?

NextEra Energy is required to have tax-exemption documentation on file for every electricity account that participates in Bellingham Power Choice and has tax-exempt status. Without that documentation on file, NextEra Energy may be required to charge tax on the account. They cannot obtain that documentation from National Grid or Eversource. They must obtain it from each customer directly.

If your account has tax-exempt status, please submit your tax-exemption documentation to NextEra Energy. Visit the Tax-exempt accounts page for information on where to send your documentation.

Is Bellingham the only community in Massachusetts with this kind of program?

No. Approximately half of the cities and towns in Massachusetts have electricity aggregation programs like Bellingham Power Choice.

Do I need to do anything when Bellingham is changing to a new electricity supplier?

No. If you are an active program participant, your account will be automatically enrolled into the new electricity supply contract in your current program option.

If you previously opted out of the program, you will remain opted out. You do not need to opt out again. However, if you would like to enroll in the program with the new contract, you may do so. Please contact customer support for more information.

Electricity supply & electricity suppliers

What is electricity supply?

Electricity service has two parts: supply and delivery. Supply refers to the electricity itself. Delivery is the process of bringing that electricity to you over the wires.

With your utility’s Basic Service, your electric utility (National Grid or Eversource) chooses your electricity supplier and delivers the electricity to you. With Bellingham Power Choice, your electric utility will continue to deliver your electricity, but Bellingham chooses its own supplier.

What is a competitive electricity supplier?

A competitive electricity supplier is not your electric utility. Electricity suppliers do not deliver your electricity. They buy it for you, and your electric utility (National Grid or Eversource) delivers it to you.

A competitive electricity supplier is a company licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to purchase electricity and related services from the wholesale electricity markets for resale to retail electricity customers.

If you sign a private contract with an electricity supplier or you participate in a municipal aggregation program like Bellingham Power Choice, your electric utility will use your electricity supplier’s price to calculate the Supply Charges on your electric bill instead of their own Basic Service price.

Who is the program's current electricity supplier?

The program’s current electricity supplier is NextEra Energy Services.

Price, savings, & billing

What will my electricity supply price be if I participate in Bellingham Power Choice?

Your price will be determined by which program option you are enrolled in. Bellingham Power Choice has two options:

  • Power Choice Standard: 10.755 ¢/kWh, changing to 20.862 ¢/kWh in December
  • Power Choice Green: 13.863 ¢/kWh, changing to 24.662 ¢/kWh in December

See how the program will appear on an example National Grid bill or an example Eversource bill.

How much will I save? Are savings guaranteed?

The program has the potential to offer a lower price than your utility’s Basic Service prices, but savings cannot be predicted or guaranteed.

The Town signs contracts that lock in Bellingham Power Choice prices for the long term, while National Grid’s and Eversource’s fixed Basic Service prices change every 6 months for residential and commercial/small business customers and every three months for industrial/large business customers, and their future prices are not known.

As a result, the program price may not always be below your utility’s Basic Service prices.

Will I receive a second electric bill?

No. Your electric utility (National Grid or Eversource) will continue to bill you for your electricity. This is the only electric bill you will receive as a participant in Bellingham Power Choice. The program is integrated into your existing electric bill.

See how the program will appear on an example National Grid bill or an example Eversource bill.

What if National Grid / Eversource prices fall below the Bellingham Power Choice prices?

This is normal. National Grid and Eversource Basic Service prices change every 6 months or less, depending on what type of account you have, while Bellingham Power Choice prices are typically fixed for a longer period of time. As a result, it is likely that for some months, the Basic Service prices for your electric utility will fall below the program prices. Typically, this happens during the summer months, but it could happen anytime.

If you ever wish to leave the program, you are free to opt out of the program and return to your utility’s Basic Service with no penalty or fee.

I have solar panels on my property or I participate in a community solar program. If I join Bellingham Power Choice, will I continue to receive the credits or payments that I receive now?

Yes. You will continue to receive solar credits and/or solar incentive payments, and participating in Bellingham Power Choice will not change how they are calculated.

Where do I see Bellingham Power Choice on my electric bill?

Bellingham Power Choice appears on your electric bill in two ways:

  1. On the Supply Charges portion of your electric bill, you will see NextEra Energy Services, Bellingham’s electricity supplier, listed as your electricity supplier instead of your electric utility’s Basic Service.
  2. The price that your electric utility uses to calculate your Supply Charges will be the Bellingham Power Choice price instead of their own Basic Service price.

See how the program will appear on an example National Grid bill or an example Eversource bill.

Additionally, the amount of renewable energy purchased on your behalf may change, depending on which program option you choose.

 

The program provides a stable electricity supply price. Why is that important?

Having a stable price for the supply portion of your electric bill can protect you from the seasonal price increases that occur when you have your electric utility’s Basic Service. When National Grid or Eversource is your electricity supplier and you have their Basic Service, the price they use to calculate the Supply Charges on your bill changes every 6 months for residential and commercial/small business customers and every 3 months for industrial/large business customers.

Having a stable price can also provide a predictable alternative to the variable prices offered by some commercial electricity supply offers in the marketplace that provide a stable price for a few months, but then vary the price monthly.

Participation

How do I know if I'm enrolled in the program and which option I'm enrolled in?

Check your most recent electric bill. If you are enrolled in Bellingham Power Choice, your electricity supplier will be listed as NEXTERA ENGYSV-BELLINGHAM POWER CH.

To check which program option you are enrolled in, look at the price that is used to calculate the Supply Charges portion of your bill. Compare it to the Bellingham Power Choice prices.

  • If you are enrolled in Power Choice Standard, the price will be 10.755 ¢/kWh ($0.10755/kWh), changing to 20.862 ¢/kWh ($0.20862/kWh) in December.
  • If you are enrolled in Power Choice Green, the price will be 13.863 ¢/kWh ($0.13863/kWh), changing to 24.662 ¢/kWh ($0.24662/kWh) in December.
Who is eligible to participate in Bellingham Power Choice?

All metered electricity customers within the geographic boundaries of Bellingham are eligible to participate. All new National Grid and Eversource Basic Service customers in Bellingham are automatically enrolled within a few months of opening their electricity account.

Important note: For any customer who previously opted out of or left the program and wishes to re-enroll, the program’s electricity supplier is entitled to charge a market price instead of the program price for the remainder of the current electricity supply contract. If the program’s electricity supplier decides to charge market pricing, you will be notified before enrollment and can decide then whether to continue with enrollment or not.

I have signed my own contract with an electricity supplier. Can I participate?

Yes. If you have already signed a contract with an electricity supplier, you will not be automatically enrolled in the program, but you are invited to participate.

We recommend that you first check the terms of your existing electricity supply contract. Many include minimum enrollment periods and early termination fees.

Learn more about enrolling.

Important note: For any customer who previously opted out of or left the program and wishes to re-enroll, the program’s electricity supplier is entitled to charge a market price instead of the program price for the remainder of the current electricity supply contract. If the program’s electricity supplier decides to charge market pricing, you will be notified before enrollment and can decide then whether to continue with enrollment or not.

Do I have to participate? Can I leave the program?

You may choose not to participate, and you may leave the program after you enroll. This is called opting out.

There is no penalty for opting out. You may do so at any time.

If you opt out, you will be placed on Basic Service with your electric utility.

You may opt out at any time online or by contacting customer support.

How do I opt up to Power Choice Green or switch to Power Choice Standard?

You may use the online form to change from one program option to another or contact customer support. You may change program options at any time.

I have a large commercial account. Am I eligible for program pricing?
You are welcome to submit your large commercial account for enrollment, however you may be offered market pricing instead of program pricing when initially enrolling in the program. If your account is eligible for market pricing, you will be informed of the market price prior to being enrolled, and have the opportunity to accept it or reject it. If you enroll in the program at a market price, you will receive the program price under all future contracts if you remain in the program without interruption.
Can I leave, or opt out of, the program and re-enroll?

Yes. However, for any customer who previously opted out of or left the program and wishes to re-enroll, the program’s electricity supplier is entitled to charge a market price instead of the program price for the remainder of the current electricity supply contract. If the program’s electricity supplier decides to charge market pricing, you will be notified before enrollment and can decide then whether to continue with enrollment or not.

Utilities (National Grid & Eversource)

I currently have budget billing with my electric utility. Will this change?
  • National Grid customers will retain budget billing on both the Supply Charges portion and the Delivery Charges portion of their bill if they participate in Bellingham Power Choice.
  • Eversource customers will lose budget billing on the Supply Charges portion of their bill as a participant in Bellingham Power Choice, but budget billing will continue on the Delivery Charges portion of their bill.
I'm eligible for a low-income discount from National Grid / Eversource. Will this change?

No. You will continue to receive your low-income discount as a participant in Bellingham Power Choice.

What's the difference between my electric utility and an electricity supplier?

An electric utility like National Grid or Eversource is responsible primarily for delivering electricity to you, for maintaining the poles and wires, and for addressing power outages. Your electric utility charges you for these services on the Delivery Charges portion of your electric bill.

An electricity supplier is a company that buys electricity for you from electricity generators or from electricity brokers. An electricity supplier can be National Grid or Eversource, or it can be a third-party company. If your supplier is a third-party company, it does not replace National Grid or Eversource as your electric utility.

  • When your electric utility is also your electricity supplier (i.e., when you have National Grid’s or Eversource’s Basic Service), your electric bill will indicate that is the case with the words “basic service.”
  • You may also choose your own electricity supplier. If you do, the name of that company will appear on your electric bill as your electricity supplier, and the price you negotiated with them will be used to calculate the Supply Charges portion of your bill.
  • With Bellingham Power Choice, the Town chooses an electricity supplier on your behalf. Bellingham has signed a contract with NextEra Energy to supply electricity to the Town. NextEra will appear on your electric bill as your electricity supplier, and your electric utility will use the price the Town secured with them to calculate the Supply Charges portion of your bill.

Renewable electricity

What is the minimum amount of renewable electricity required by state law?

The minimum amount increases every year. For 2023, the total minimum amount is 58%. This includes 22% from “premium” renewable energy projects in the New England region (MA Class I RECs) and 36% from older renewable energy projects or clean energy projects that are not renewable.

For more information, visit the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources page on compliance information for the Renewable Portfolio Standard.

Why should I opt up to Power Choice Green and receive 100% renewable electricity?

When you choose the Power Choice Green option, 100% of your electricity will be generated by clean, renewable sources like the sun and the wind. Renewable energy does not create air pollution, and it does not emit the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. In addition, all of your electricity will come from “premium” renewable energy projects in the New England region (MA Class I RECs), which means you will be helping to build demand for more renewable energy on our local power grid.

If you opt up to Power Choice Green, every time you pay your electric bill, you will make an investment in:

  • Cleaner air and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Encouraging the development of new renewable energy projects in New England by creating additional demand for the electricity generated by those projects.
  • Supporting local businesses and local jobs by buying electricity from New England-based projects.