Officials in Maynard are hoping to make a power play that will save residents money on their electric bills.
In May, Town Meeting voters gave the go-ahead for officials to draft a plan for buying electricity in bulk for the entire town at a discounted rate.
Officials hope to submit the plan for state review by next month, and residents could see savings by the beginning of next year.
“I’m very confident that we’ll be able to buy it below the market rate,” said Town Administrator Michael Sullivan.
Maynard is partnering with Easy Energy of Massachusetts LLC, a Bolton-based company that purchases electricity from wholesalers and then resells the power to business, residential, and municipal customers.
‘Being a larger group and being a diverse group can help get a better price for all customers.’
The town already partners with the company to purchase energy for its municipal buildings, and Sullivan said the arrangement saved Maynard around $80,000 last year.
Maynard’s homes and businesses are served by NStar, a regional utility company.
If the town goes forward with the plan to buy electricity from Easy Energy instead, it would still be delivered over NStar’s power lines, and residents would continue to be billed by the utility. However, the bills would show separate charges for the electricity provided by East Energy — at a lower rate, Maynard officials hope — and the transmission charges and other fees collected by NStar.
Customers can opt out of the aggregation plan and buy electricity at NStar’s normal rates if they wish.
“It’s unknown exactly what kinds of numbers we’re going to get on the bids,” said Margaret Campbell, chief executive officer of Easy Energy. “It may not be for each individual customer a huge number. It might be three dollars a month, or three percent a month on their generation charge.”
Campbell noted that while her company would be required to provide electricity at a lower rate than NStar initially, it isn’t guaranteed that customers would always see a savings.
For example, if Maynard locks in a rate with Easy Energy for two or three years and then NStar lowers its rates, the residents could find themselves paying the same rate as NStar charges or more, at least temporarily.
Campbell said one reason combining all of Maynard’s customers together could result in a lower rate is because businesses and residents tend to use electricity at different times of the day, resulting in a more even “load profile.”
“Being a larger group and being a diverse group can help get a better price for all customers,” she said.
Maynard Selectman David Gavin said he was confident that residents would be paying a below-market rate with Easy Energy.
“The great thing about the aggregation is, it’s the power of numbers,” he said.
Only a handful of cities and towns in Massachusetts, including Ashland and Marlborough, currently aggregate residents’ energy purchasing.
Edward Clancy, a Marlborough city councilor, said buying power in bulk was a good move for his city, and suggested more communities should follow suit.
“It’s a good deal for the consumer. It’s like joining the BJ’s of electricity,” Clancy said, referring to the chain of discount stores.
“People were apprehensive about it when it first came up,” Clancy added. “They thought, ‘It’s going to change my service.’ It has no bearing whatsoever on your service.”
Clancy said Marlborough customers save at least $1 million a year, overall, through aggregate buying.
“In the long run, you do save money,” Clancy said. “It’s a good deal for the consumer.”