Who is eligible for this program?
Anyone in Town can participate in the program. Anyone who receives Last Resort Service electricity supply from National Grid is eligible for automatic enrollment in the program’s standard product. This is the vast majority of residents and small businesses. If a custoemr has already selected an electricity supplier (other than National Grid), they may join the program at any time but are not be eligible for automatic enrollment.
Why are we proposing a program that automatically enrolls me and then allows me to “Opt-Out”. Why not use an “Opt-In” program?
When soliciting bids for an energy supplier, having more expected participating residents and businesses in the program will allow bidders to offer a larger discount on their bid rates. Using an “Opt-In” program would result in a much smaller number of participating residents and businesses than an “Opt-Out” program and would likely result in a higher bid price.
Factoid: If you look at your energy bill, you’ll find that National Grid has already “opted you in” to an energy supplier that they have negotiated with already. You can “opt-out” of this National Grid selected supplier if you wish and contract with a supplier of your own.
Can’t I negotiate with suppliers on my own?
You certainly can and many residents and businesses have negotiated their own supplier agreements. But, aggregating a customer base by the Town provides for a more powerful market that will likely result in a lower price for the program.
What is a “Standard Product”?
The standard product is the program’s default electricity supply, which has been negotiated through a competitive process, and in which, under an aggregation program, eligible residents and business would be automatically enrolled, unless you select an optional product in the program or elect to opt-out of the program.
The program’s proposed standard product has twin goals of 1) costing the same or less than National Grid’s Last Resort Service supply and 2) including additional renewable energy, above the State of RI’s minimum requirements. For background, the State of RI requires every electricity supply to have a minimum amount of renewable energy. In 2022, that amount will be about 19%. By 2035, that requirement will increase to about 38%. Based on the way the Town plan is currently written, we expect the standard product will have an extra 10% renewable energy. In 2022, this would mean that the standard product would have a total of 29% renewable energy.
What are the Optional Products?
The plan includes three optional products, designed with varying levels of renewable energy.
- “Basic” – This includes just the State of RI’s minimum renewable energy
- “Green 50%” – adds 50% renewable energy
- “Green 100%” – adds 100% renewable energy
How long would the Town be committed to the program?
The Town, working with its energy consultant, would conduct an analysis of long-term energy forecast to determine the best contract term and price. At the start of each contract for electricity, the Town will evalute the program’s value and choose to terminate the program or continue.
What if I have a current agreement for an energy supplier?
You would not be eligible for automatic enrollment in the program, but you could elect to join the program voluntarily. We would recommend that you check the specific contract you signed before joining the Town’s program. Different contracts have different termination clauses, so you could be charged a penalty by your current supplier if you leave early to join the Town’s program.
Would this impact any payments or incentives I get for solar panels on my house?
No, incentives for solar panels, like net metering or the Renewable Energy Growth program, will continue unchanged.
When would this CCA happen?
The Town is currently evaluating option with a possibility to start in 2022.
What are the steps along the approval process?
The process steps are outlined on the Timeline page.
I like National Grid. Does this program change my electric company to someone other that National Grid?
The program DOES NOT replace National Grid as the Town’s electric utility. Under the plan National Grid remains in charge of all the wires and equipment, i.e. delivery, that get the electricity to your home. The only thing that the plan changes is that it allows the town to bid on the supply of your electricity. Right now National Grid picks that suppler for you.
Was any firm other than Good Energy considered for the Service Agreement?
Providence, Barrington, Central Falls and South Kingstown issued a joint RFP in November 2019. All bid documents, including competitive proposals, were made available to aid in the consideration of a consultant. This included the Professional Services Agreement signed with Providence. There is no direct cost to the Town for these consultant services and no obligation or termination fee if the Town determines not to continue this relationship until the Program signs an agreement with the Program’s supplier.
If Good Energy is paid $0.001 per kWh, it represents a cost of about $1.45 in peak months or about $.50 in low-use months in terms of my household energy use. What is the overall estimated annual payment to Good Energy if 85% of Portsmouth’s users stay with the CCA? Is their rate subject to change?
All payments to Good Energy are made from the Program’s supplier consistent with the terms of the Town’s agreement and the subsequent contract for electricity supply services. The Town has agreed to include a $0.001 per kWh fee to be included if the Town chooses a Program Supplier. National Grid data indicates that Portsmouth customers on Standard Offer service used 70,470,148 kWh in the previous 12 months ending June 2020 . 85% of this load would equate to an annual payment from the Competitive Supplier to Good Energy in the amount of $59,900.
Why is there such a rush to get this implemented and why won’t citizens have more time to provide input?
The Town desires to be proactive in investigating any program that may benefit the residents and businesses. The Town has followed every procedural step required by State law to develop an aggregation plan, as described on the Timeline page and in Attachment 1 of the Plan. The Pubic Utilities Commission has also held its public hearing on August 11, 2021 on the plan.
Can the Town increase the renewable energy in the Basic option (or any option) without Public Utilities Commission approval?
Yes – the Town can modify the amount of renewable energy in the options it offers in the program, so long as each option meets the minimum required by the State.
Will this program cause additional staff to be added to the town government? Has there been a study of additional potential costs to taxpayers this program may incur and has it been performed by someone other than Good Energy, which has vested interest in this project going forward?
There is no need to add staff to manage this program. There has been no identified costs from any department or funding requested of the Council for the development and implementation of this program. As part of its response to the RFP issued by Barrington, Central Falls, Providence and South Kingstown, Good Energy attested to having no financial interest in any renewable or conventional electricity generation.
Why is there no mention of risks to consumers/taxpayers in the program descriptions?
The program description includes all provisions required by State law. The PUC will be conducting such a review in open meeting to assure that the plan meets these requirements. In previous Council meetings there has been discussion of potential risks to consumers, including that the program cannot guarantee cost savings compared to Last Resort Service from National Grid. There has been no identified need for taxpayer funding for the execution of the program.
Have there been studies of any failed CCAs to assess whether it might happen here? (Reportedly, some in other states have been abandoned.)
The quality of a program is directly related to the quality of the consultant. If a program, designed as envisioned by the Portsmouth Aggregation Plan, failed or was abandoned, all electricity consumers participating in the program would be returned to Last Resort Service with National Grid. The Aggregation Plan includes procedures for notifying National Grid about a termination, how the Program Supplier and National Grid will cooperate to transition customers, and how customers will be notified. Every single one of Good Energy’s 200+ aggregations nationwide, running since 2012, have resulted in participants saving money on electricity supply costs, adding more renewable energy to their electricity mix or both. Portsmouth has not conducted a study of failed CCA programs in the United States.
If Portsmouth program enters an agreement with Providence to achieve economy of scale, how much clout will Portsmouth have and what assurances are there that there will be an equitable agreement?
Portsmouth, at all times, retains the right to bid independently. There is no need to enter any formal agreement with Providence to have a Program Supplier bid on the opportunity to meet the supply needs of both municipalities. Decision making for any group procurement like this is made via consensus. Importantly, while we will have the option of choosing the same supplier as Providence, there is no obligation to do so.
What will the auditing arrangement be? Will Portsmouth have to pay yet another external entity to audit the CCA and Good Energy? At what cost?
No Town funds, beyond currently budgeted staff time, are needed to develop and implement this program.
Has Good Energy contributed to any local politicians’ election campaigns?
No. Good Energy is organized as a limited partnership under the laws of Delaware. Such organizations are prohibited by Rhode Island law from contributing to political campaigns.
Who would administer this program? To my knowledge the town has no experts on staff.
Portsmouth staff is experienced at providing oversight and management of Town programs. In the program plan, the Town Council designates the Town Administrator and his staff to administer the program. The Town has chosen an experienced consultant to assist in developing the plan, securing regulatory approval, procuring electricity supply and performing management activities such as customer service. The consultant will provide the Town staff with data and analysis needed to facilitate decision making by the Town Administrator and Town Council.
What is the cost to the town for the consultant per the current resolution passed by the Town Council?
There is no direct cost to the town. The consultant, Good Energy, will be compensated at a rate of $0.001/kWh, to be paid by the chosen program electricity supplier directly to the consultant. The Town may terminate its agreement with the consultant at any time without penalty.
How much will the proposed standard product for using additional renewable energy increase the cost to residents?
The exact differential for the various product option is difficult to estimate at this point. As the town develops its bid strategy, it will research the market an arrive a set of cost goals that will be acceptable for bids. The draft plan has four products, one of which is the standard product into which eligible accounts would be automatically enrolled. The other three products are optional products in which any customer could voluntarily enroll. The goal of the standard product is to cost the same or less than National Grid Last Resort Service and to have a small amount of additional (extra) renewable energy, above the current state minimums.
What does the term “EXTRA” Renewable Energy mean? More than what? Please expand on this metric.
Extra renewable energy is in reference to the Rhode Island Renewable Energy Standard (RES), which sets a minimum amount of renewable energy that must be included in all electricity supplies, regardless of whether it is provided by the utility, National Grid, or a competitive supplier. In 2022, the RES will require 19% renewable energy. For example, if the standard product includes 10% additional renewable energy, the total renewable energy will be 19%+10%=29%.
I believe that the statement “provide some savings” is way too vague for my liking. I think a defined goal for savings would provide a benchmark to judge the bids provided if the next phase is pursued. Let me suggest that at least a 10% savings over current and projected National Grid consumer (without CCA) pricing will be needed to make the program attractive and that this may not be possible with extra renewable energy. If we save 1% and have extra administrative costs, I think this a silly exercise unless it is a veiled attempt to move the town to more renewable energy with no savings.
At the time the Town is ready to go out to bid, we expect that the Town will have determined some parameters and minimum goals for bid rates that would result in savings that would be acceptable for the term of the contract and would reject any offers that do not fall within the acceptable parameters.
Once the bids are returned, is there an option for citizens to review them BEFORE a decision is made? I suggest that the best deal may not be worth executing the plan but I remain open to have it investigated.
Town Council would be involved in discussing and approving a set of bid parameters that would be acceptable before the bid process moves forward. The Town would always retain the option to reject any and all bids and wait for a better market or decide to abandon the program altogether. Individual customers can always choose to leave the program should they decide, without penalty or fee.