General program information
What is the Watertown Electricity Choice program?
Watertown Electricity Choice is a municipal electricity aggregation, a form of group electricity purchasing.
Typically, your electric utility, Eversource, provides two sets of services to you:
- They deliver your electricity (Massachusetts electric utilities are electricity delivery companies only). Delivery services appear on your bill as Delivery charges.
- 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 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 most people buy their electricity.
- 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 the Watertown Electricity Choice program is.
What is a municipal electricity aggregation?
A municipal electricity aggregation, such as the Watertown Electricity Choice program, is a group purchasing program for electricity.
In an aggregation, the City uses the bulk purchasing power of the entire community to select an electricity supplier and to determine both the amount of renewable energy in the electricity and the price. Residents and businesses in Watertown can then benefit from the contract that the City signs with an electricity supplier.
If you participate in the program, Eversource will continue to deliver your electricity, but the company chosen by the City will appear on your Eversource bill as your electricity supplier. Also, the price that the City secures will be used to calculate the Supply charges on your Eversource electric bill.
Watertown Electricity Choice provides an alternative both to Eversource’s Basic Service pricing and to other electricity supply offers in the marketplace.
What will change if I participate in Watertown Electricity Choice?
You will see two key changes as a result of participating in the Watertown Electricity Choice program:
- On the Supply portion of your Eversource electric bill, you will see Watertown Electricity Choice listed as your electricity supplier instead of Eversource
- The rate that is used to calculate the Supply portion of your Eversource electricity bill will be a Watertown Electricity Choice price.
Additionally, you will receive an additional 30% renewable electricity, over and above the minimum required by state law in. (Please note, if you choose the 100% Green option, you will receive 100% renewable electricity. If you choose the Basic option, you will receive no additional renewable electricity above the minimum required by state law.).
Otherwise, everything else will remain the same. You will continue to receive your bill from Eversource, you will continue to pay Eversource, and you will continue to call Eversource if your power goes out.
If you are eligible for any discounts from Eversource, those will be unaffected by your participation in this program.
Why did Watertown launch this program?
The primary goal of Watertown Electricity Choice is to increase the community’s investment in clean electricity while providing Watertown electricity customers with a stable electricity price.
Massachusetts state law already requires that a minimum amount of renewable energy be purchased for all electricity sold in the state. However, Watertown Electricity Choice will purchase an additional 30% renewable energy over and above the state required minimum. That means participants will automatically receive a minimum total of 50%, of their electricity from renewable sources that include:
- at least 20% from “premium” renewable renewable energy sources in New England (MA Class I RECs) to meet minimum state requirements (minimum state requirements increase each year)
- 3% from “premium” renewable energy sources in New England (MA Class I RECs), added voluntarily by Watertown
- 27% from renewable energy sources outside of New England, added voluntarily by Watertown
The program also offers two program alternative options:
- 100% Green, which purchases renewable electricity from “premium” renewable energy sources in New England (MA Class I RECs) to match 100% of your electricity use
- Basic, which provides the program benefits of price stability and consumer protections but purchases no additional renewable electricity beyond the minimum amount required by state law each year
I received a call/visit/letter in the mail about my electric bill. Is it from the CIty or this program?
The Watertown Electricity Choice program will send you one letter about the program before you are enrolled. That letter will include the City seal, the name Watertown Electricity Choice, and the name of City Manager, Michael Driscoll. If the mailing you received does not include these three items, it is not from the City and does not represent the City program.
Eversource and the Watertown Electricity Choice program do not conduct sales calls or go door to door. If you receive a call or a visit from someone who wants to discuss your electricity, they are from a private company, even if they mention Eversource. keep these two things in mind:
- You should treat your Eversource account number like you treat your credit card information. Do not give it out unless you want to purchase your electricity from someone else.
- 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 agreement 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.
How will I know if I am enrolled and which option I have?
If you are enrolled, your Eversource bill will show Watertown Electricity Choice as your electricity supplier.
To check which program option you are enrolled in, look at the price that is used to calculate the supply charge portion of your bill. It will match one of Watertown’s prices:
- If you are enrolled in 100% Green, the price will be $0.15638/kWh (15.638 cents/kWh).
- If you are enrolled in Standard, the price will be $0.12999/kWh (12.999 cents/kWh).
- If you are enrolled in Basic, the price will be $0.12723/kWh (12.723 cents/kWh).
See an example Eversource bill.
How long will the program last?
The program itself will last as long as the contract for electricity supply that the City enters into. The current contract with NextEra Energy Services extends until December 2023 meter reads. At that point, the City can continue the program by signing a new electricity supply contract, or it can end the program and return all participants to Eversource’s Basic Service. The City’s intention is to continue the program, but the City will make an announcement about its decision either way at that time.
All program participants have the right to opt out of the program at any time with no fee or penalty.
Who do I call if the power goes out?
Call Eversource if your power goes out, as always. Eversource will continue to deliver your electricity and maintain the polls and wires.
My organization is tax exempt. How do I maintain its tax exempt status in this program?
The electricity supplier for Watertown is required to have tax exemption documentation on file for every electricity account that participates in Watertown Electricity Choice and has tax exempt status. Without that documentation on file, the electricity supplier may be required to charge tax on the account. They cannot obtain that documentation from Eversource. They must obtain it from each customer directly.
Learn more about submitting your tax exemption documentation.
Is Watertown the only community in Massachusetts implementing this kind of program?
No. Municipal electricity aggregation has been building momentum across Massachusetts. Watertown is one of more than 140 other Massachusetts communities that already have aggregations. Recently, more and more of these communities have implemented “green” aggregations like the Watertown program, which increase the amount of renewable electricity in the community’s electricity supply beyond the minimum amount that Eversource is required by state law to purchase.
What is the minimum amount of renewable energy in electricity required by state law?
The minimum amount increases every year.
Massachusetts state law requires that the following amounts of of your electricity comes from “premium” renewable energy projects in the New England region (MA Class I RECs):
In addition, state law requires the inclusion of a minimum amount of renewable energy from older renewable energy projects in New England, as well as from some other energy sources that are considered highly efficient but 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 100% Green to get 100% renewable electricity?
Choosing the 100% Green option and 100% renewable electricity means making the most significant contribution possible within the program to sustainability and to the New England economy.
Every time you pay your electric bill, you will make a strong investment in:
- Reducing Watertown’s greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the amount of renewable energy used to generate electricity. Electricity generated from renewable sources, such as the sun and wind, does not create the greenhouse gases that cause climate change and does not pollute the air.
- Encouraging the development of additional renewable energy projects in New England by creating additional demand for the electricity generated by those projects. You will create that demand because through Watertown’s 100% Green option, you will buy only renewable energy generated in New England. This makes the 100% Green option different from many of the 100% renewable offers in the marketplace, which include renewable energy generated outside of New England and do not help to drive the development of new renewable energy projects on our local power grid.
- Supporting local businesses and local jobs by buying electricity from New England-based projects.
I have solar panels on my property. If I join the program, will I continue to receive credits on my bill?
Yes. Those credits are called net metering credits, and they will work the same way if you participate in the program. Your net metering credits from your solar panels will continue to appear on your Eversource bill and will continue to be calculated based on Eversource’s Basic Service price, not the program price.
What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy is energy generated by sources that can be renewed as opposed to sources that can be used only once, such as fossil fuels.
Under Massachusetts state law, a variety of resources qualify as renewable. The main sources of renewable energy are solar, wind, and small hydroelectric projects.
Electricity supply & electricity suppliers
I have signed my own contract with an electricity supplier. Can I participate?
Yes. If you have chosen an electricity supplier, you will not automatically be enrolled, but you can opt in to the program.
Before enrolling, we recommend that you check the terms of your contract with your current electricity supplier. Many private contracts have minimum participation periods and charge early termination fees if you change to a new electricity supplier before the end of the minimum participation period.
If you wish to wait until the end of your current electricity supply contract to enroll, that is OK. You will receive the Watertown Electricity Choice price at the time you enroll.
Get more information about enrolling.
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 Basic Service, your electric utility, Eversource, is your electricity supplier and also delivers the electricity to you.
With Watertown Electricity Choice, Eversource will continue to deliver your electricity, but Watertown chooses its own supplier.
What is an electricity supplier?
An electricity supplier is not your electric utility. Electricity suppliers do not deliver your electricity. They buy it for you, and your electric utility delivers it.
An 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 program like the Watertown Electricity Choice, you are choosing an electricity supplier. Eversource will use your electricity supplier’s price to calculate the supply charges on your electricity bill instead of their own Basic Service price.
Who is the program's current electricity supplier?
From December 2021 – December 2023 meter reads, Watertown’s electricity supplier is NextEra Energy Services.
Price, savings, & billing
Why is having a stable electricity supply price important?
Having a stable price for the supply part of your Eversource electricity bill can protect you from the seasonal price increases that occur when you have Eversource’s Basic Service. When Eversource is your electricity supplier, the price that is used to calculate the supply charges on your Eversource bill changes every 6 months for residential and other small customers, and it changes more frequently for larger commercial customers.
Having a stable price for the supply part of your Eversource electricity bill can also provide a predictable alternative to the variable prices offered by some commercial electricity supply offers. Some commercial electricity supply offers will provide a stable price for a few months, but then the price will vary monthly.
The Watertown Electricity Choice price is fixed until December 2023 meter reads. When the City signs a new contract and the price changes, the City will announce the new price publicly before it takes effect.
What will my electricity supply price be through the program?
Watertown Electricity Choice offers three options, each with a different price. The price reflects the amount of renewable energy that is included with that option:
- Standard: 12.999 cents/kWh
- 100% Green: 15.638 cents/kWh
- Basic: 12.723 cents/kWh
The Standard Offering is the default program offering. You will be enrolled in the Standard Offering unless you request one of the other options.
Watertown’s prices are fixed until December 2023 meter reads, while Eversource’s Basic Service rate for residential customers changes every six months. Future Eversource prices are not known. As a result, savings compared with Eversource’s Basic Service cannot be guaranteed.
Will I know the program price and the price of each program option before I am enrolled?
Yes. If you are an Eversource Basic Service customer, you will receive a letter in the mail from the City of Watertown with program information, including pricing, before your account is enrolled.
Note that although at that point you will know the program pricing, you cannot know the Eversource Basic Service price beyond the 6-month period for which Eversource purchases Basic Service electricity supply.
Will I receive a second bill?
No. Eversource will continue to bill you for your electricity, and this is the only electricity bill you will receive as a participant in Watertown Electricity Choice.
What if Eversource's price falls below the program price?
It is normal that for some months, the Eversource price will fall below the Watertown Electricity Choice prices. This is because the Watertown Electricity Choice price is fixed until December 2023 while Eversource’s Basic Service prices change every 6 months for residential and small business customers, and every 3 months for large business customers, and future prices are not known.
The program cannot guarantee that it will beat Eversource’s Basic Service price at all times, or even the average Eversource price. However, customers are free to opt out at any time with no fee or penalty.
Please note: If you do choose to opt out and then change your mind during the contract with Direct Energy, you are no longer guaranteed the program price. The electricity supplier has the right to charge you a market price.
How much will I save? Are savings guaranteed?
The program has the potential offer a lower price than Eversource’s Basic Service price, but savings cannot be predicted or guaranteed.
The program price is fixed until December 2023 meter reads, while Eversource’s fixed Basic Service prices change every six months for residential and small business customers and every three months for medium and large business customers.
Their future prices are not known.
As a result, the program price may not always be below Eversource’s price.
Where do I find Watertown Electricity Choice on my Eversource bill?
Watertown Electricity Choice appears on your Eversource electricity bill in two ways:
- On the first page of your electricity bill, you will see Watertown Electricity Choice listed as your electricity supplier instead of Eversource’s Basic Service.
- The price that Eversource uses to calculate your supply charges on the second page of your will be a Watertown price instead of their own Basic Service price.
Additionally, the amount of renewable energy purchased on your behalf may change, depending on which program option you choose.
View an example Eversource bill for details regarding how Watertown Electricity Choice appears on your bill.
How do I join Watertown Electricity Choice?
All new residential and commercial electricity customers in Watertown that are on Everesource’s Basic Service – meaning they have not signed a private contract with an electricity supplier – will be automatically enrolled in Watertown Electricity Choice in the Standard offering. You will receive a notification letter in the mail from the City prior to being automatically enrolled with program details. Typically, this letter is sent within a few months of your opening your account.
Watertown electricity customers that have signed a private contract with an electricity supplier will not be automatically enrolled, but may choose to opt in to the program.
To enroll, submit your Eversource account information online or call customer support for assistance at 1-844-278-9864.
Is participation required?
No. Participation is not required. There is no penalty for opting out. You may do so at any time. You may opt out of the program before being enrolled, and you may opt out any time after enrollment. If you opt out, the supply portion of your bill will remain on Eversource’s Basic Service rate.
How do I change from one program option to another?
Who is eligible to participate in Watertown Electricity Choice?
All metered electricity customers within the geographic boundaries of Watertown are eligible to participate. All new Eversource Basic Service customers in Watertown will be automatically enrolled within a few months of opening their electricity account.
What is the difference between Eversource and an electricity supplier?
Eversource is Watertown’s electric utility. They are your electricity delivery company. That means Eversource is responsible for delivering electricity to you, for maintaining the poles and wires, and for addressing power outages. Eversource charges you for these services on the Delivery portion of your electricity bill. Eversource does not generate electricity.
An electricity supplier is a company that buys electricity for you from electricity generators or from electricity brokers.
- For most electricity customers, their utility is also their electricity supplier. When Eversource is your supplier (i.e., when you are on Eversource’s Basic Service), your electricity bill will indicate that is the case. Eversource will use their current Basic Service price to calculate the Supply charges on your bill.
- You may also choose your own electricity supplier. If you do, the name of that company will appear on your Eversource bill as your electricity supplier, and the price you negotiated with them will be used to calculate the Supply charges on your bill.
- In Watertown Electricity Choice, the City chooses an electricity supplier on your behalf. The price that Watertown secures with that electricity supplier will be used to calculate the Supply charges on your bill.
Does this program replace Eversource as my electric utility?
No. Eversource is the electric utility for Watertown and will continue to deliver your electricity. Your bill will continue to come form Eversource, and you will continue to call Eversource if your power goes out. Your primary relationship for electricity will remain with Eversource.
The Watertown Electricity Choice program will change only the supplier on your Eversource bill and the price that is used to calculate the Supply charge portion of your Eversource electricity bill.
Will Eversource provide me with a lower quality of service because I participate in this program?
No. Eversource’s quality of service to you will be unaffected by your participation in Watertown Electricity Choice. Eversource does not profit from the supply charges on your electric bill. They make their profit from delivery charges. As a result, they have no preference whether they choose your supplier or Watertown does.
I am currently eligible for the low-income rate from Eversource. Will this change?
No. If you are eligible for a low-income discount from Eversource, it will be unaffected by your participation in the program.
I have budget billing from Eversource. Will this change?
Budget billing is a service from Eversource in which your bill is the same amount every month, regardless of how much electricity you use.
If you join Watertown Electricity Choice, budget billing will no longer apply to the Supply portion of your Eversource bill, though it will continue to apply to the Delivery portion of your bill. If paying exactly the same amount every month is important to you, you should opt out of the program.