Electricity switching risky for households
Under the Massachusetts state law that deregulated electricity markets, residents don’t have to purchase their electrical power from utilities, which buy their electricity in wholesale markets and pass the costs onto consumers. Residential customers can choose, instead, to buy from the many power companies licensed to sell electricity in our state and try to find lower rates.
For households, which consume relatively small amounts of electricity, the savings are often minuscule, and switching can sometimes expose customers to higher costs down the road.
Beware of aggressive marketing and “slamming,” in which customers have electricity providers switched without their permission.
If customers agree to switch, their new supplier will notify their utility. After receiving a letter confirming details of their power supply contract, consumers have three days to change their mind, with no strings attached, under state regulations.
Still, regulators say residents should look for details that telemarketers and sales staff may not disclose. Depending when it switches to a competitive supplier, a household may get hit with additional charges from their utility. Some contracts from competitive suppliers include additional monthly charges or hefty early-termination fees.
For some households, price is not the reason for switching. Some environmentally conscious customers choose to buy power from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, at a cost above the typical household’s energy bill.
Beware of Utility Company Scams
Have you been told you qualify for a 15 to 20 percent discount on your utility bill if you’ll provide your customer account number? Before accepting the offer, know that the likely switch will simply take you to a different energy supplier. Beware. Some suppliers employ telemarketers that recruit new customers with promises of lower rates for switching. But after a brief introductory period, rates may suddenly skyrocket — and you find yourself locked in a long-term contract with high cancellation fees.
In some instances, you may be asked only for your name, address and utility account number — not a credit card. But with that information in hand, the new supplier can switch your power service provider, either with your blessing or by “slamming,” the illegal practice of switching customers to another provider without their consent. Your best bet: If you’re interested in switching energy suppliers, avoid unsolicited offers and instead compare your options at http://web1.env.state.ma.us/DPU/FileRoom/Licenses, our state’s website listing power providers.
To avoid getting slammed (your utility service changed without your permission) or being over-charged by a company practicing deceptive marketing, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office advises consumers to check your monthly utility bills to make sure that your service has not be switched to a different provider without your consent, and protect your sensitive information by only sharing your utility bills after you have decided to do business with a provider.
The Wellfleet Energy Committee is sponsoring an Energy Fair at the Wellfleet Council on Aging (715 Old Kings Highway) on June 18th from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm.Companies across a wide range of energy-related technologies including solar photovoltaic panels, solar hot water heaters, heat pump hot water heaters, insulating shades and fabric drapery insulation, energy conservation and energy efficiency will exhibit at the Energy Fair. Non-profit and community organizations will also participate. Information regarding savings through rebates, tax incentives and group purchasing will be available as well as Free LED night lights. Photographs of solar installations in Wellfleet will be on display. The Community Garden and flower gardens around the building are open for people to browse. There will be speakers throughout the day presenting a wide range of topics.
The goal of the Energy Fair is to provide an information clearinghouse for Wellfleet and Lower Cape residents looking to conserve energy, become more energy efficient and adopt sustainable policies.
Refreshments are generously donated by the following Wellfleet restaurants: The Flying Fish,PB Boulangerie Bistro, Van Rensselaer’s Restaurant and The Wicked Oyster.
The Energy Fair last year was a huge success and is back due to popular demand. Wellfleet’s tradition as a leaders in solar home installations, energy conservation and energy efficiency is being supported by the Wellfleet Energy Committee’s commitment to education and community participation during this day long event.
Wellfleet- Becomes a Green Community
The Wellfleet Energy Committee just competed two major project, becoming a Green Community and the Solarize Wellfleet Program and is working on a a Solar Array at the capped landfill.
1) Wellflleet has been designated as a Green Community. There were five criteria. We passed Criteria 1 and 2, the Zoning article and Expedited Permitting article in 2013 at the annual town meeting. An article to adopt the “Stretch Code” (Criteria 5) passed the 2014 Annual Town Meeting. The Board of Selectmen approved a plan for the use of high mileage vehicles where feasible earlier in 2014 (Criteria 4) . The last step involved an energy reduction plan that was developed with the assistance of the Cape Light Compact by Larry Franke with help from Marcus Springer. Here is a draft of the plan that was reviewed with the Selectmen on 9/16/2014. The final version of the Wellfleet- Energy Reduction Plan was submitted for the BOS adoption 9/30/14.
2) We are in the early planning stages of installing a photovoltaic array on the Wellfleet capped landfill next to the Transfer Station.
3) We sponsored Solarize Wellfleet. This was an initiative to educate homeowners and businesses in Wellfleet about installing solar arrays and organizing a group buy to lower costs. The program ended on June 30, having exceeded its goal of reaching more than 200 kW of installed capacity. The program is now over and 133 households have agreed to install 655 kW of capacity, over three times our goal for the program. Wellfleet homeowners contracted to add solar installations to about 3% of the houses in Wellfleet as part of this program, making us one of the most “solarized” towns in the state.
On January 28, the Board of Selectmen reviewed a revised Aggregation Plan from the Cape Light Compact. This is the first revision in thirteen years. There was a public hearing in Mashpee on May 14 on the aggregation plan, which was submitted to the DPU and the underwent a technical review which added clarifying material.