On March 1, 2005, electric service in Massachusetts changed in accordance with the Electric Restructuring Act. By law, electricity customers who received Standard Offer Service were transferred to Basic Service.

 

Do I have any other options besides Basic Service?

Yes. As part of the <u>Electric Restructuring Act</u> , you have the option to purchase your electricity directly from a Competitive Supplier. The competitive market has not yet fully developed for residential customers. There are currently three Competitive Suppliers that offer electricity to residential customers: Dominion Retail, Easy Energy of Massachusetts, and MXenergy.


What does it mean to choose a Competitive Supplier?

If you choose a Competitive Supplier, you will be purchasing your electricity supply from a company other than your current electric company. However, your current electric company will continue to deliver the electricity to your home over the wires connected to your house.

There are four components to electric service:

(1) generation, the power plants that create the electricity supply that is transported to homes and facilities in Massachusetts;

(2) transmission, the wires and associated facilities that transport the electricity (at high voltage levels) from power plants to distribution substations;

(3) distribution, the wires and associated facilities that transport the electricity (at lower voltage levels) from distribution substations to customers' facilities and homes; and

(4) consumer services, which include, metering, billing, and information services.

Prior to electric restructuring, these components were provided as monopoly services by electric companies, at prices that were fully regulated by the Department of Public Utilities (DPU). The Electric Restructuring Act opened the generation component to competition. Even if you choose to purchase electricity from a Competitive Supplier, the other components of electric service (transmission, distribution, and customer services) will continue to be provided by your existing electric company.

 

How do I find a Competitive Supplier for electricity in my area?

Visit the DPU's website for a list of Competitive Suppliers in your area or call us at (617) 737-2836 for more information.

You may also contact your electric company directly (see below) for a list of Competitive Suppliers in your area. Please note that not all Competitive Suppliers serve residential customers; some only serve commercial and industrial customers. We encourage you to compare the Competitive Suppliers' rates with your electric company's rates.

 

National Grid Massachusetts Electric Nantucket ElectricNSTAR
Boston Edison Commonwealth Electric Cambridge Electric Light
Unitil
Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light
Northeast Utilities Western Massachusetts Electric
Massachusetts Electric - Energy ChoiceNSTAR - Competitive Power Supply FAQUnitil Customer Services - Supplier Information WMECO - Choosing a Supplier
(888) 466-3433(800) 592-2000(888) 301-7700(800) 286-2000

 

What should I do if I cannot find a Competitive Supplier serving my area?

If you cannot find a Competitive Supplier serving your area, you may wish to check periodically to see if new Competitive Suppliers are entering the market in your area. There are currently a limited number of Competitive Suppliers for residential consumers. We anticipate that the increased number of residential consumers shopping for electricity will lead to an increase in the number of Competitive Suppliers serving residential customers. The DPU remains committed to taking all reasonable steps to bring the benefits of competition to Massachusetts customers.

 

Are there any programs for low-income or elderly electric customers?

You are protected from having your electric service shut off if you have a "financial hardship"

AND (1) you, or someone in your home, is seriously ill; or (2) you have an infant in the home under 12 months; or (3) it is between November 15 and March 15 and you need electric service to heat your home. A "financial hardship" exists when a customer is unable to pay an overdue bill and such customer meets income eligibility requirements for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program ("LIHEAP") administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development. You may be eligible for assistance if your household income does not exceed 200 percent of current federal poverty guidelines. Alternatively, the DPU may determine that a financial hardship exists. If you have a financial hardship, you should inform your electric company immediately.

Click here for more information on eligibility requirements for protection from termination of service due to financial hardship and for information on how to reduce your electric bills generally.

Also, if you and every resident in your household are 65 or older, your electric company may not shut off service to your household without prior written approval from the DPU. If all residents of your household are over age 65, you should inform your electric company. Click here for more information on protection from termination of service for elderly customers.

In addition, a low-income discount rate is available from each electric company. To qualify, your income must not exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty level and you must receive a public benefit program or low-income fuel assistance. Currently, low-income customers must apply to their electric company for the discount rate. The DPU is working with utilities to develop a system to automatically enroll persons receiving public assistance through the Commonwealth. Click here for more information on the low-income discount.



 

 

What if I am a business customer?

Click here for information on Commercial and Industrial electric service.

 

Where can I go for more information on electric restructuring and the electric energy market?

Below is a list of websites that provide information on Electric Restructuring and the workings of the electric energy market.

Electric Restructuring Act:
http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/seslaw97/sl970164.htm
(Chapter 164 of Acts and Resolves of 1997)

http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/gl-164-toc.htm (G.L. c. 164)

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources:
http://www.mass.gov/doer

Independent System Operator - New England:
http://www.iso-ne.com/

Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership:
http://www.neep.org/

National Consumer Law Center:
http://www.nclc.org/issues/energy-utilities-a-telecommunications.html

 

 


This information is provided by the Department of Public Utilities