Opt up to 100% renewable electricity for your home

Anyone who lives in Massachusetts can opt up to 100% renewable electricity for their home.  Better yet — if we opt up in the right way — we can spur our utilities to generate more renewable electricity.

46 Massachusetts communities have created bulk purchase plans (called Community Choice Aggregations or CCAs) that allow their residents to opt up to 100% New England renewable electricity.

We’ve listed below the towns that most First Parish members live in and allow residents to opt up to 100% New England renewable electricity.  If you live in one of these towns, we hope you’ll click on the link and opt up through your program.

Arlington

Belmont

Cambridge

Greenfield

Lexington

Melrose

Newton

Somerville

Watertown

Winchester

If you don’t live in one of these towns, we hope you’ll opt up through the state-wide Green Energy Consumers Alliance.

To avoid being misled …   Some commercial vendors are offering “green electricity” programs that are not what they seem.  If you want to make sure you are promoting new renewable energy, and not paying more than you have to, it’s safest to stick with either your town’s program or the Green Energy Consumers Alliance.

If you opt up, we would appreciate it if you could send us an email telling us you’ve done that: climateaction@firstparish.info.  We would also appreciate any info about how the process went.  Was your town’s website clear and helpful?

How will you know if you’ve opted up?

In Arlington, the second page of your electricity bill from Eversource will say “Supplier (DIRECT ENERGY TOWN OF ARLINGTON)” under the heading “Total Charges for Electricity” and, a couple of lines below that, the Generation Service Charge will have a number of kWh x .13699. That .133699, given in dollars per kWh, matches the price of the 100% local green renewable option shown on the Arlington Community Electricity website. If you’ve opted up to 50% local green renewable, it will be .12199 instead. If you live in another town and have opted up and have found out how you can verify that, please tell us (climateaction@firstparish.info).

How do these programs work?  (you can skip this unless you’re curious)  

When a utility generates renewable electricity, it receives Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Each year, Massachusetts requires utilities to show that they have RECs that represent a certain percentage of their electricity output, and that percentage increases each year. Utilities can get RECs either by producing renewable electricity themselves or by purchasing RECs from another utility. What you’re actually doing when you sign up for 100% renewable electricity is purchasing RECs equal to your electricity usage. (Electrons don’t come with tags showing their origins!) When ordinary people like us purchase RECs, utilities can’t purchase those RECs, so they have to install more renewable electricity generation in order to get the RECs they need. Your decision to opt up to 100% New England renewable electricity thus directly affects how much renewable electricity is generated. Also, there are places (such as Iowa and Texas) where wind power is so cheap that utilities are developing it just for financial reasons. That’s fine and good, but if you purchase RECs from Iowa (through one of those commercial vendors), all you’re doing is subsidizing wind power that would have been profitable anyway.