- Electric Deregulation
- Shopping for a Competitive Electric Supplier
- Changing Electric Suppliers
- Electricity Provider Switching Process
- Billing and Service
What is supplier choice?
Massachusetts electricity bills have several components but there are two main sections: delivery and generation. Since 1998, the generation (also known as supply) portion of your electric bill had been deregulated. This means that you have the opportunity to choose your electricity supplier. Electricity delivery charges are the same regardless of which supplier you choose.
Do all Massachusetts customers have electric choice?
Supplier choice is only available to customers served by investor-owned utilities. These utilities include Eversource (Boston Edison, Commonwealth Electric, Cambridge Electric, Western Massachusetts Electric), National Grid (Massachusetts Electric and Nantucket Electric), and Unitil (Fitchburg Gas & Electric Light).
What is an electric competitive supplier?
An electric competitive supplier is a company licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to provide electricity supply to consumers.
What is the role of an electric competitive supplier?
Competitive suppliers purchase electricity on the wholesale market and sell it to retail consumers like you. Competitive suppliers can also offer value-added services including smart thermostats, heating and cooling maintenance services, and renewable energy plans.
What is the role of a utility in electricity delivery?
Utilities are still responsible for reading electric meters, responding to service interruptions, and maintaining the wires and poles to ensure reliable electricity delivery.
Does the reliability of my service depend on which electric supplier I choose?
No. Reliable service is the responsibility of the utility. The Massachusetts DPU regulates utilities and requires that they provide the same quality of service without consideration of which competitive supplier you choose.
Shopping for a Competitive Electric Supplier
What is a fixed rate or fixed price plan?
These plans protect you from market price changes during the term of their agreement. Fixed rate electricity plans can give you peace of mind by locking in your supply rate for terms of serval months to several years.
What is a variable rate plan?
If you do not want to commit to a specific contract term, then a variable rate plan may be the best option for you. Your monthly electricity rate will vary but it allows you keep your options open. You can always switch over to a fixed price plan later if you want to do so.
What is renewable or green energy?
Renewable or green energy generation includes wind, solar, biomass, hydro, geothermal, and other environmentally friendly sources. Some electric suppliers offer plans with renewable energy percentages exceeding Massachusetts minimum standards. The good news is that choosing green energy is not as expensive as it used to be.
Changing Electric Suppliers
What information do I need to have available during the enrollment process?
Your utility account number, service address, and other information are typically required to complete the electric supplier enrollment process. Have a copy of a recent utility bill handy when shopping for competitive electric rates.
Will my service be interrupted by switching electric suppliers?
No. Switching from the utility to a competitive supplier or from one competitive supplier to another does not interrupt your service. You will keep your same meter and receive the same electricity delivery service from your utility without any gaps or interruptions.
Can I change my mind after enrolling with a new electricity supplier?
As a residential customer, you can cancel your enrollment within three business days without penalty. You can also return to your utility for electricity supply at any time. Check your supplier’s terms of service for information on whether a cancellation fee will apply. Keep in mind that it could take several weeks to switch back to utility supply service depending on your meter reading date.
Electricity Provider Switching Process
How soon will I be switched to my new electricity supplier?
After enrolling with your supplier, your electricity supply rate usually starts on your next meter reading date. Information about your meter reading date is shown on your electric utility bill.
Do I need to notify my current supplier or utility that I am switching service?
No. They will be notified electronically once a switch request is received from your new electricity supplier. You may incur a cancellation fee if you end your agreement with your current competitive electricity supplier before the end of the contract term.
What should I do if I receive a switch notice from my utility and I did not switch providers?
Fortunately, intentional slamming is not a common occurrence in the deregulated Massachusetts market. First, make sure that nobody else at your residence initiated a switch to the new electricity supplier (this actually happens a lot!). If you believe the switch is unauthorized, contact your utility immediately.
How do I know if my service has switched to the supplier I chose?
When you receive your electric utility bill, check the generation portion of the bill to verify the name of the electricity supplier.
Billing and Service
Who sends my electric bill?
As a residential customer, you will probably receive a combined delivery and generation bill from your utility regardless of which competitive supplier you choose. Some competitive suppliers may bill you separately. In that case you will receive an electricity delivery bill from the utility and an electricity generation bill from the competitive supplier.
Where do I direct my billing questions?
Your first contact for billing questions should be with the utility as they serve as the billing agent. If your question specifically on the electric generation portion of the bill, some electric suppliers encourage you to call them directly. If a billing or service dispute cannot be resolved, you can contact the MA DPU Consumer Division at 877-886-5066.
What happens if I have an electrical outage or an electrical emergency?
You should call your utility to report outages or electrical emergencies such as downed power lines. Check your billing statement for the phone number.
What is a kilowatt-hour or kWh?
This is the billing unit for energy consumption. It represents 1000 watts used for a period of one hour.
What is the electric supply charge?
This is the charge from your competitive supplier for the electricity you used during the billing cycle in accordance with the terms of the plan in which you enrolled.
What if I cannot pay my electric bill or if I need additional time to pay my bill?
If you receive a combined delivery and generation bill, contact your utility and advise them of your situation. If you receive a generation bill from a competitive supplier, contact their customer service department. You may be able to work out a payment plan or an extension with them.
What happens if I stay with my current electricity provider past my contract end date?
Consult the terms of service or plan documents provided by your electric supplier. There are options for remaining with the electric supplier on a new fixed price plan, continuing on month-to-month variable rate plan, or switching back to utility default supply service.
How do I find out when my current electric service agreement ends?
You can contact your electric supplier to verify the date your plan ends. Competitive electric suppliers are also required to notify you about a change in the supply rate when the end of the fixed rate plan is approaching.