Competitive supply glossary

Definitions for common competitive supply related words.

Definitions

Automatic renewal is a provision included in some competitive electric supply contracts that allows the supplier to automatically renew the contract upon the end of the initial contract term. The renewed contract may have a different pricing structure than the initial contract. To be displayed on the website, a product with an automatic renewal provision must have a contract term equal to or greater than six months.

Basic service is the electric supply product that electric companies provide to consumers in their service territories that have not selected a supply product from a competitive supplier.

Billing cycle/meter read is the schedule (generally 30 days) by which your electric company reads your meter/issues you bill.

Cancellation fee is a provision in some competitive electric supply contracts that allows the competitive supplier to assess a fee to consumers that terminate their contract prior to the end date. Cancellation fees are expressed as either (1) a fixed dollar amount, or (2) a dollar amount per month remaining on the contract.

Competitive supplier is an entity licensed by the DPU to sell electric supply products to electricity consumers in the Commonwealth. The DPU grants licenses to competitive suppliers based on a review of their technical and financial ability to offer such products.

Delivery is the component of electric service associated with the wires, poles, meters, and other equipment used to transport electricity to your home and/or business. The electric companies provide the delivery component of electric service to all electricity consumers within their service territory.

Distribution facilities refer to the low–voltage delivery wires, poles and other equipment that the electric companies own to deliver electricity within their service territories to your home and/or business.

Department of Public Utilities (DPU) is the regulatory agency responsible for the oversight of investor owned electric power, natural gas, and water utilities in the Commonwealth. The DPU also licenses electric and gas competitive suppliers, electricity brokers, and gas retail agents, and is responsible for addressing consumer complaints and ensuring that licensed suppliers, brokers, and retail agents comply with DPU regulations.

Electric company provides the delivery component of electric service as a monopoly service to all electricity consumers in their specified service territories. There are four electric distribution companies in Massachusetts: (1) Eversource Energy East (NSTAR Electric Company); (2) Eversource Energy West (Western Massachusetts Electric Company); (3) National Grid (Massachusetts Electric Company and Nantucket Electric Company); and (4) Unitil (Fitchburg Gas & Electric Light Company).

Electric service consists of two components: (1) supply (defined below), and (2) delivery (defined above).

Electric supply products are products offered by entities that purchase electricity from the wholesale electricity market for sale to electricity consumers. Your electric supplier may be your electric company or a competitive supplier. Your choice of electric supply product determines the cost of the supply component of your electric service.

Electricity broker is an entity licensed by the DPU to assist electricity consumers in selecting electric supply products offered by competitive suppliers. The DPU grants licenses to electricity brokers based on a review of their technical ability to provide this service.

Fixed-price product is an electric supply product in which the price remains constant for the contract term. To be displayed on this website, a fixed-price product must have a contract term equal to or greater than three months.

Information disclosure label is a document that your electric supplier is required to provide prior to initiation of service and on a regular basis thereafter. The information disclosure label summarizes the contract terms and environmental impact associated with the electric supply product you have purchased.

Kilowatt (kW) is a standard unit of measure of electricity demand at any point in time. One kW is equal to 1,000 watts.

Kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a standard unit of measure of electricity used over time. One kWh is equal to 1,000 watt-hours. For example, if a customer used a 40-watt light bulb for 100 hours, the customer would be billed for four kWh (40-watts x 100 hours = 4,000 watt-hours or 4 kWh).

Municipal aggregation refers to the method by which municipalities can purchase electric supply products on behalf of the consumers within their borders.

Municipal light plant is an electric utility that is owned, maintained, and operated by a municipality. There are 50 municipalities in the Commonwealth that are served by municipal light plants.

Renewable energy certificates (RECs) are the certificates issued to renewable energy resources for each megawatt-hour of electricity they produce. Retail electric suppliers purchase RECs to satisfy both the mandatory and voluntary components of their electric supply products.

Renewable energy product is an electric supply product for which the renewable energy content exceeds the minimum level required by the renewable portfolio standards. To be displayed on this website as a renewable energy product, a product must include a minimum of 50 percent renewable energy resources.

Renewable portfolio standard (RPS) establishes the minimum renewable energy content required for electric supply products sold in the Commonwealth. The RPS establishes the criteria that determine the types of renewable energy resources that can be used by retail suppliers to satisfy their RPS requirements.

Rescission period is the three-day period during which consumers may cancel a contract with a competitive supplier without penalty.

Restructuring act refers to the Massachusetts Electric Industry Restructuring Act of 1997. The Restructuring Act, in part, gave Massachusetts consumers the option to choose whether to purchase the supply component of their electric service from their electric distribution company or from a competitive supplier.

Slamming is the unauthorized switching of a customer account from the customer’s current retail electric supplier to another retail electric supplier.

Supply is the component of electric service associated with the production and purchase of the electricity that you use in your home and/or business. Under the Restructuring Act, electricity consumers in the Commonwealth can choose who provides them with their electric supply -- you can continue to purchase your electric supply from your electric company, or you can purchase electric supply from competitive suppliers.

Transmission facilities refers to the high-voltage delivery wires, poles, and other equipment that transport electricity from electric power plants in the region to the service territories of the electric companies.

Variable-price product is an electric supply product in which the price may change on a monthly basis, based on conditions in the electricity markets. This website currently does not display variable-price products.

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