Landlords Being Opted into Worcester Community Choice Electricity Supply

Landlords (and renters) are being automatically opted into the Worcester Community Choice electricity supply for all meters effective February 2020. The main goal of this program is to move Worcester toward a carbon-neutral infrastructure by doubling the amount of renewable energy consumed compared to current state minimums.

The rate to compare against the Worcester Community Choice rate is your supply rate, not delivery charges. Supply rates are typically on the second page of a residential bill (circled).

Landlords asked us questions, and we forwarded these to the program. Here is what we’ve learned (responses are edited email replies from a Sustainability Project Manager for the City Energy and Asset Management Division; any errors are MassLandlords’ own).

Does Worcester Community Choice cost more for landlords than normal electricity?

There are two options, and the default costs less. The default everyone is being opted into is a fixed 11.442 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is currently lower than the National Grid rates currently being offered for residential meters (for instance, load zone WCMA at 13.166 cents per kilowatt hour). Commercial rates may vary, check your bill.

There is a voluntary 100% renewable option that costs 14.031 cents per kilowatt-hour. This may be more than what you or your renters are currently paying. You will not end up paying more unless you deliberately choose the 100% renewable option.

Pricing is fixed for 34 months from date of launch, through November 2022.

Is biomass (wood burning) part of the Worcester Community Choice renewable mix? Because that wouldn’t make any sense if we’re trying to reduce carbon.

The City of Worcester has not required the supplier to exclude biomass from its mix (in the contract), so in response to your question we first explored if there was an appetite at the City to voluntarily ask the supplier to exclude biomass. We decided yes, and asked them, and are awaiting the response. Two caveats:

1)      The ask is voluntary  (not a contractual obligation) – though there is a good chance they will conform.

2)      The biomass mix [in state-regulated RPS Class I Renewable Generation Units] is very small  – about 0.04% of the total renewable generation capacity.

Most of the renewable energy will come from New England wind due to its market dominance currently. Direct Energy will purchase RECs at the end of each year, when they know the total volume of kWh sold, and how many RECs they need to cover their obligation. So we do not know ahead of time the percent of each renewable resource that will be purchased.

If I want to opt out of Worcester Community Choice for whatever reason, do I have to submit separately for each entity and meter or is there a bulk process based on point of contact/manager?

Opting out must be done by account, not by meter. If you would like to submit a list of accounts to us rather than opting them out individually, you can do so via email to the customer support email address (dpw@worcesterma.gov). We will need the following for each account:

Name on account
Service address
National Grid account number
Subject: Opting out of Community Choice

Are newly opened accounts (e.g., renter accounts) opted into Worcester Community Choice?

All new accounts on National Grid’s Basic Service would be automatically enrolled.

When a renter account closes and the meter reverts to the owner, does the owner have to do anything or is their previous preference saved?

If this process generates a new National Grid account number (it normally does), then the account will be eligible for automatic enrollment. Whoever is the correct account holder will receive an opt-out letter just as we have done for this initial setup. Whatever a landlord decides isn’t relevant once the renter opens their own account. Renters will make their own choices at time of starting service.

Worcester Community Choice for Landlords Conclusion

Overall, Worcester Community Choice is doing the right thing. We are eliminating a component of fossil fuel energy generation in the city. We are ensuring residents don’t pay more on their bill. We are providing revenue to local renewable suppliers.

The program was not designed with landlords in mind, so the marketing materials didn’t cover these specific FAQ’s, but we hope this helps. The recommendation is let your meters be opted in: permit your owner meters to be auto-enrolled now and your renter meters each time they turn over vacant.

You Asked, We Found Out.

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