As a consumer, you have a number of rights that will help you to make informed decisions and protect you against unfair conduct.

Unauthorized Switching of Suppliers or "Slamming"

A competitive power supplier may not switch you to its service without your consent. Your consent must take the form of either

  1. A written letter of authorization signed by you; or
  2. Your oral statement to an independent third party, such as a separate verification company.

If you are switched without your authorization, you may file a complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy by calling 1-800-392-6066.

Cooling-Off Period

Your choice of a competitive power supplier will not take effect for at least three business days. Should you change your mind during that three day period, you will not incur any charges.

Basic Service

Basic service provides customers with a continuous power supply through their distribution company when, for whatever reason, they are not receiving power through either a competitive power supplier or an aggregator. It is available to all customers at any time.

Disclosure Labels

Starting in September 1998, competitive power suppliers and distribution companies must furnish customers with a disclosure label prior to providing service and then on a quarterly basis. The label will set forth their prices, the types of power sources used, their air emissions, their labor practices and a toll-free number for customer service. The same format of information is to be used by every supplier and distribution company, making it easier to compare the various offers.

Terms Of Service

Prior to providing service, suppliers must furnish potential customers with a terms of service statement. This document will detail all charges, the length of the contract, the payment due date, the manner in which a supplier will notify you of any changes in the terms of service and a toll-free number to call for more information.

Billing and Termination

The billing and termination regulations previously enforced by the Department of Telecommunications (DTE) remain in effect. These rules restrict shut-offs during the winter months, prohibit security deposits and late charges for residential customers, and provide other consumer protections.

Public Aggregators

A public aggregatpr is city or town that purchases electricity in bulk for its citizens in order to increase their buying power. Residents have the right to decide whether or not to participate should their local government become an aggregator.

Discount Rate Customers

Discount rate customers are individuals and families whose household income is at or below 175% of the federal poverty level.You may qualify as a low-income customer if you are receiving benefits administered through the Department of Transitional Assistance (for example, TAFDC, EAEDC, Food Stamps), or if you receive Mass. Health (Medicaid), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Veterans Benefits, live in public or subsidized housing, or are certified eligible for Fuel Assistance.

Rate discount: Discount rate customers receive a discount of 25-35%, depending on their distribution company These discounts are applied to the delivery service portion of the bill.

Energy efficiency programs: The fuel assistance agency network extends special energy efficiency programs to discount rate customers to help them reduce their bill by using less energy.

This information is provided by the Department of Public Utilities