Frequently Asked Questions

 

Have a question about the program and how it will impact you? See below for a list of frequently asked questions and answers. Also, check out the links in the Learn More box to the right.

If you still don’t see what you’re looking for, please feel free to contact the City’s program consultants for customer support.

About the program

What is the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program?

The Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program is a municipal electricity aggregation, a form of group electricity purchasing.

If you participate in the program, National Grid will continue to deliver your electricity, but the company chosen by the City, Direct Energy, will appear on your National Grid bill as your electricity supplier. Also, National Grid will use a Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program price to calculate the Supply Services portion of your electric bill instead of their own Basic Service price.

The Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program provides an alternative both to National Grid’s Basic Service pricing and to other electricity supply offers in the marketplace.

What is a municipal electricity aggregation?

A municipal electricity aggregation, such as the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program, is a group purchasing program for electricity. Municipal electricity aggregation was enabled by the Massachusetts Restructuring Act of 1997 (Chapter 164, Section 134), which allowed local municipal governments to aggregate the electricity supply loads of the consumers within their boundaries in order to negotiate more favorable terms with an electricity supplier. To date, about half of Massachusetts municipalities have already launched their own aggregations. Worcester would be the largest community in the state, by far, to do so.

Typically, your electric utility (in Worcester, it is National Grid) 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 bill as Delivery Services charges.
  2. They also can 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 Services 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 a competitive electricity supplier yourself. You may have received offers in the mail or over the phone in the past.
  • Your municipal government can sign a contract with an electricity supplier that you can benefit from, using the mechanism of municipal electricity aggregation. Worcester’s aggregation is called the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program. By law, municipal electricity aggregations all have an automatic enrollment model.

To learn more, visit the state’s Municipal Aggregation website.

What gives Worcester the authority to launch an aggregation?

Municipal electricity aggregation was enabled by the Massachusetts Restructuring Act of 1997 (Chapter 164, Section 134), which allows local municipal governments to aggregate the electricity supply loads of the electricity consumers within their geographic boundaries in order to negotiate more favorable terms with an electricity supplier.

Municipal aggregations are subject to oversight by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, and Worcester’s aggregation plan was subject to a regulatory review and approval process before the City was authorized to implement the program. (Learn more about Worcester’s implementation process.)

More than 40% of Massachusetts communities had already launched electricity aggregations by the time Worcester’s program launched in February 2020.

 

Why is Worcester launching this program?

The primary goal of the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program is to move Worcester toward its sustainability goals while providing a City-vetted alternative to electricity supply offers in the marketplace by offering stable pricing and consumer protections. Through the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program, the City can integrate additional renewable energy into the City’s electricity supply above the state-required minimum.

Is Worcester the only community in Massachusetts that has implemented this kind of program?

No. Municipal electricity aggregation has been building momentum across Massachusetts. Worcester joined more than 140 other Massachusetts communities that already had aggregations. Increasingly, communities are implementing “green” aggregations like the Worcester program, which increase the amount of renewable electricity in the community’s electricity supply beyond the minimum amount that electricity suppliers are required by state law to purchase.

What will change for me with this program?

You will see two key changes as a result of participating in the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program:

  1. On the Supply Services portion of your National Grid electric bill, you will see Direct Energy, the aggregation program supplier, listed as your electricity supplier instead of National Grid.
  2. The price National Grid uses to calculate the Supply Services portion of your National Grid electric bill will change from their Basic Service price to a Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program price.

Everything else will remain the same. You will continue to receive your bill from National Grid, you will continue to pay National Grid, and you will continue to call National Grid if your power goes out.

If you are eligible for any discounts from National Grid, those will be unaffected by your participation in this program.

Will former participants of National Grid's Smart Energy Solutions pilot program be able to participate in the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program?

Yes, former participants in the Smart Energy Solutions pilot will be able to participate in the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program on the same terms, and at the same price, as other customers.

In the past, National Grid provided a special Basic Service price for Smart Energy Solutions pilot customers. Pilot customers received a price that varied according to the time of day (known as “variable” pricing) rather than a price that is the same in all hours of the day (known as “flat” pricing).

However, starting in January of 2019, pilot customers were returned to a flat Basic Service price. Assuming no change in the Smart Energy Solutions pilot, all aggregation participants (both former pilot customers and non-pilot customers) will receive a flat price.

If National Grid resumes variable pricing for the pilot, the City will work with National Grid to incorporate variable pricing into the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program.

I received a call/visit/letter in the mail about my electric bill. Is it from the City or this program?

If you receive a letter that does not include the City Seal, it is not from the City and does not represent the City program. If you want to confirm whether you have received a legitimate City communication, you can contact customer support with the City’s consultants. The City of Worcester and the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program do not make sales calls or visits to your home.

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

  • You should treat your National Grid electricity 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, but are not limited to: minimum bill amounts, contract length requirements, early termination fees, low introductory rates that change after the introductory period ends, and rates that vary.
Does this program replace National Grid as my electric utility?

No. National Grid will remain the electric utility for Worcester and will continue to deliver your electricity, and your primary relationship for electricity will remain with National Grid.

The Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program will change the supplier on your National Grid electric bill, and it will change the price that National Grid uses to calculate the Supply Services portion of your electric bill. But your electric bill will continue to come from National Grid, and National Grid will continue to be your electric utility.

See an example National Grid bill.

How long will the program last?

The City’s current contract with Direct Energy expires in December 2022. The City has signed a new contract with Direct Energy that will run from the conclusion of the current contract until December 2023. Program participants are free to leave the program with no fee at any time and go back to National Grid’s Basic Service.

Do I have to participate?

No. Participation is not required. There is no penalty for opting out. You may do so at any time. If you receive a letter notifying you that your account will be automatically enrolled, you may opt out of the program before being automatically enrolled, and you may opt out any time after enrollment. If you opt out, the Supply Services portion of your electric bill will continue to be calculated using National Grid’s Basic Service price.

 

How do I join the program?

New electricity accounts in Worcester will be automatically enrolled in the program.

If you sign your own contract with an electricity supplier shortly after opening your electricity account (in other words, if you are not on National Grid’s Basic Service), you will not be automatically enrolled in the program. However, you can enroll in the program. Please be aware that your electricity supplier may charge early termination fees, so you should carefully review your current contract terms and conditions before making that decision.

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.

Can I opt in after opting out?

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.

Will I receive a second electric bill if I participate in the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program?

No. National Grid will continue to bill you for both electricity Supply Services and Delivery Services, and this is the only electric bill you will receive as a participant in the program.

Who do I call if the power goes out?

Call National Grid if your power goes out, as always. National Grid will continue to deliver your electricity and maintain the polls and wires, and will remain responsible for addressing power outages.

Will National Grid provide me with a lower quality of service because I participate in this program?

No. National Grid’s quality of service to you will be unaffected by your participation in the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program. National Grid does not profit from the Supply Services charges on your electric bill. They make their profit from the Delivery Services charges. As a result, they have no preference whether they choose your supplier or Worcester does.

I have solar panels on my property or I participate in a community solar program. If I join the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program, 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 the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program will not change how they are calculated.

How do I maintain my account's tax-exempt status if I participate in the program?

Tax-exempt accounts that wish to maintain their tax-exempt status in the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program must submit tax-exemption documentation to the program’s electricity supplier.

This means that tax-exemption documentation must be submitted each time the program’s electricity supplier changes.

The program’s electricity supplier is required by the State of Massachusetts to have valid tax-exemption documentation on hand for all tax-exempt accounts.

You may have submitted tax-exemption documentation to National Grid already, but National Grid does not share this documentation with the program’s electricity supplier. It is the customer’s responsibility to submit this documentation.

Please see the tax-exempt accounts page for information on where to send your documentation.

Aggregation program pricing

Will I know the program price and the price of each program option before I am enrolled?

Yes. If you are a National Grid Basic Service customer and eligible for automatic enrollment in the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program, you will receive a letter in the mail with program information, including pricing, before you are enrolled.

Please note, that although at that point you will know the program pricing, you cannot know National Grid’s Basic Service prices beyond their current 6-month (or for industrial accounts, 3-month) pricing period.

What will my electricity supply price be through the program?

The program offers two options. Your price will be determined by which option you are enrolled in. Visit the Prices page for current program prices.

Why is a stable electricity supply price so important?

Having a stable price for the Supply Services portion of your National Grid electric bill can protect you from the seasonal price increases that occur when you have National Grid’s Basic Service, meaning National Grid is your electricity supplier. The price that is used to calculate the Supply Services portion of your National Grid electric bill changes every 6 months for residential and commercial customers, and every 3 months for industrial customers.

Having a stable price for the Supply Services portion of your National Grid electric 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 Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program prices will be fixed from December 2022 – December 2023. When the prices change, the City will announce the new price publicly before it takes effect and active program participants will receive a letter in the mail.

While Worcester seeks to provide prices that are lower than or equal to the average National Grid Basic Service prices over the course of the year, it must be noted that savings cannot be guaranteed compared to National Grid’s Basic Service prices, because National Grid’s prices change, and future prices are unknown.

What if National Grid's Basic Service prices fall below the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program prices?

The Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program prices are fixed from December 2022 until December 2023. However, National Grid’s Basic Service prices change every 6 months for residential and commercial customers and every 3 months for industrial customers. As a result, it is likely that for some months, National Grid’s prices may fall below the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program prices. The program cannot guarantee that it will beat National Grid’s Basic Service prices at all times. The program aims to match or beat the average of the changing National Grid prices, although there is no guarantee that it will do so.

Remember that you are free to leave the program at any time and return to National Grid’s Basic Service. However, if you opt out of the program and want to re-enroll during the same electricity supply contract, you will not be guaranteed the program price.

I am currently eligible for the low-income (R-2 rate) discount from National Grid. Will this change if I participate in the program?

No. If you are eligible for a low-income discount from National Grid, it will be unaffected by your participation in the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program.

I have budget billing from National Grid. Will this change if I participate in the program?

No. Budget billing is a service from National Grid in which your bill is the same amount every month, regardless of how much electricity you use. If you participate in the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program, budget billing will continue to apply.

I have a large commercial account. Am I eligible for program pricing?

You are welcome to submit your large commercial account for enrollment online or over the phone, 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.

Aggregation and electricity suppliers

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

Yes. If you have already chosen an electricity supplier, you will not automatically be enrolled, but you can enroll in the program. Please be aware that your electricity supplier may charge early termination fees, so you should carefully review your current contract terms and conditions before making that decision.

What is the difference between National Grid and an electricity supplier?

National Grid

National Grid is Worcester’s electric utility. In Massachusetts, electric utilities are fundamentally electricity delivery companies. They do not generate electricity. That means National Grid is responsible for delivering electricity to you, for maintaining the poles and wires, and for addressing power outages. National Grid charges you for these services on the Delivery Services portion of your electric bill.

Electric utilities have geographic monopolies. We have no choice in determining our electric utility. Our electric utility is determined by where we live in Massachusetts.

Electricity supplier

An electricity supplier is a company that buys electricity for you from electricity generators or from electricity traders. The electricity supplier for the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program is Direct Energy. National Grid charges you for the electricity you use on the Supply Services portion of your electric bill.

Buying electricity in Massachusetts

In addition to providing electricity delivery services, National Grid can also act as an electricity supplier and buy electricity on your behalf. Or you can buy your electricity from someone else. Massachusetts offers three options for buying electricity:

  1. For most electricity customers, their electric utility is also their electricity supplier. When National Grid is your supplier (i.e., when you have National Grid’s Basic Service), your electric bill will indicate that is the case.
  2. You may also choose your own electricity supplier. If you do, the name of that company will appear on your National Grid electric bill as your electricity supplier, and National Grid will use the price you negotiated with them to calculate the Supply Services portion of your electric bill.
  3. With the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program, the City chooses an electricity supplier on your behalf. The name of that company will appear on your National Grid electric bill as your electricity supplier, and National Grid will use the price the City has negotiated with them to calculate the Supply Services portion of your bill.

Renewable electricity

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

Massachusetts state law requires that all electricity sold in the state must include a minimum amount of electricity generated by renewable sources. These requirements are known as the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The required amounts of renewable energy from New England increase a little every year.

Electricity from premium renewable sources in the New England region:

  • 20% in 2022
  • 22% in 2023

Electricity from other renewable sources in the New England region:

  • 31% in 2022
  • 36% in 2023

The Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program purchases additional renewable energy, over and above the renewable energy required to meet state requirements, for both the Standard Green and the 100% Green program options.

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

What is the program's renewable energy mix?

For both the Worcester Standard Green option and the Worcester 100% Green option, most of the renewable energy will come from wind energy sources in New England. Wind is a dominant renewable energy resource in New England in terms of its generation capacity.

I participate in National Grid's GreenUp program. What should I do?

If you participate in National Grid’s GreenUp program and wish to continue participating, you should opt out of the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program. If you do not opt out, your account will no longer be enrolled in National Grid’s GreenUp program, and you will start receiving renewable electricity via the Green Worcester ElectriCITY Aggregation Program instead.