Haverhill is launching a program expected to lower residents’ electric bills — saving customers in the city a total of $3.5 million over the next three years, Mayor James Fiorentini said.
Haverhill’s Community Choice Power Supply Program is scheduled to begin in November, with customers seeing the change reflected in their December bills. That’s according to Fiorentini and the company Haverhill has contracted with — Colonial Power Group of Marlborough.
“Given the current economic conditions and knowing there are many residents who have suffered temporary and permanent job losses, I am particularly pleased (about) this program as it is designed to provide lower overall costs on a necessary service,” Fiorentini said, adding the arrangement is expected to reduce local electric bills by 6 percent.
“This electricity program will help our residents either keep a little more money in their pockets or enable them to put those funds toward other needs,” the mayor said.
A new website — colonialpowergroup.com/haverhill — offers details and video presentations about the program.
Fiorentini said all Haverhill customers currently on National Grid company’s basic power service will be enrolled in the new program automatically. There are no fees or penalties for joining or leaving the program, and Haverhill customers may opt in and opt out as often as they choose, the mayor said.
City officials and Colonial Power company said this is how the program works:
Electricity will continue to come to homes and businesses in Haverhill through National Grid company’s network of power lines that has long served the city.
Instead of continuing to buy electricity from National Grid as they do now, customers in Haverhill will be offered the choice of instead buying their electricity from Colonial Power company. Colonial Power will offer electricity to customers at a set rate, compared to National Grid’s rate, which fluctuates.
City officials and Colonial Power said the company’s fixed rate might sometimes be higher than National Grid’s rate, but oftentimes will be lower. They said buying electricity from Colonial Power over an extended period at the company’s fixed rate will save money for customers.
Henry Mercado, customer service representative for Colonial Power, said National Grid’s current basic electric rate of 9.898 cents per kilowatt hour for May 1 to Oct. 31 will increase to 12.28 cents from Nov. 1 to next April.
Colonial Power’s fixed rate is 10.860 cents per kilowatt hour for Haverhill customers for the three-year period of November of this year to November 2023. That rate is about one cent higher than National Grid’s current rate, but is 1.4 cents lower than National Grid’s rate from Nov. 1 to next April.
National Grid’s rates change every six months, Mercado said. Over the past four years, National Grid’s basic rate for Massachusetts customers has ranged from a low of about 8 cents to a high of about 14 cents per kilowatt hour.
The agreement with Colonial Power does not impact National Grid’s distribution charges, which are noted in a separate section on each customer’s bill.
“One of the goals of the program is to provide stability to the rates, so you don’t have a constant six-month change,” said Orlando Pacheco, the city’s energy manager. “By smoothing out the rates, we provide bill stability to ... customers.”
He said that in addition, the program offers a safeguard against door-to-door sales of energy programs that were becoming a nuisance to Haverhill residents — and sometimes expensive.
“Some of those salespeople were selling a low teaser rate for six months that then ballooned and, because of a contract, customers were stuck or had to pay hundreds of dollars to get out of those contracts,” Pacheco said.
Haverhill first launched its Community Choice Power Supply Program in December 2015. Fiorentini said the city put the program on pause from May 2017 until now because the available rates would not have provided worthwhile savings.
The mayor said with the current affordable rates, Haverhill recognized the importance of relaunching the program to reduce bills for homes and businesses.
Under the new program, customers will see no change in service and no interruption in billing or power, city officials said.
Residents Energy Services, the selected electricity supplier for the Community Choice Program, will be printed under “Supply Services” on customers’ National Grid bill. Customers will continue to receive one bill from National Grid, which will continue to process all payments.
Customers with a supplier block on their electricity account must contact National Grid to request that the block be removed if they wish to be enrolled in Haverhill’s community electricity program.
More information is available at colonialpowergroup.com/haverhill or by calling 866-485-5858, ext. 1.