Plan aims to provide residents and businesses with new electricity supply options
July 13, 2020
PROVIDENCE, RI— Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, Councilwoman Helen Anthony, Providence Office of Sustainability Director Leah Bamberger, Good Energy New England Director Philip Carr, Green Energy Consumers Alliance Rhode Island Director Priscilla De La Cruz, and community partners today announced a Community Choice Aggregation Plan with the goal of providing residents and businesses with new electricity supply options. By providing greater choices, the Plan aims to deliver price stability, cost savings, and an increase in the percentage of energy derived from renewable resources.
“Community Choice Aggregation is an important step towards implementing Providence’s Climate Justice Plan,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “During these challenging times, this program will give residents and small businesses in Providence more options as consumers when it comes to where your electricity comes from and how much you pay for it.”
Instead of simply utilizing National Grid’s electricity supply, Providence will bundle together the electricity needs of its residents and small businesses and put out an RFP for electricity suppliers to provide the necessary electricity at a competitive price. With Community Choice Aggregation, the City can make strategic decisions about when to solicit bids, lock in fixed pricing for multiple years, and increase the amount of renewable energy above the existing statewide minimum. All participants will have the right to opt-out of the Program at any time without charge.
“The cost of electricity is high in Providence because the City relies on natural gas that is supplied by one supplier,” said Councilwoman Helen Anthony. “Community Choice Aggregation will allow the City to drive down the cost of electricity through a competitive bid process while investing in renewable energy. Providence and the State of Rhode Island have to decrease their dependence on natural gas, and this is a big step toward that goal.”
The program would have a default electricity supply with the goal of including extra renewable energy while also generating cost savings compared to National Grid’s supply. The program would have three other optional electricity supplies:
- 100% renewable energy – this maximizes environmental impact.
- 50% renewable energy – to balance environmental impact and savings.
- One with the State-mandated minimum renewable energy – maximizes potential savings.
All extra renewable energy will come from sources based in New England, much of it from Rhode Island. It will be provided through Green Energy Consumers Alliance, a local non-profit dedicated to expanding clean energy in our region.
Good Energy will orchestrate a comprehensive education and outreach plan ahead of the program start date.
“Residential electricity consumption in Providence accounted for 145,823 metric tons of CO2E in 2018,” said Leah Bamberger, Director of Sustainability. “This is equivalent to emissions from 31,504 passenger vehicles driven for one year. Even a 10% increase in renewables will make a significant impact on reducing our carbon footprint.”
In partnership with Good Energy and Green Energy Consumers Alliance, the Office of Sustainability has conducted significant outreach across the City to inform people of this potential program and engage residents in the creation of the plan. Twelve (12) community advisors were hired from different neighborhoods to provide direct input and connect outreach efforts to their networks.
To support this, four educational videos and a survey were developed, in English and Spanish, that explained the program’s goals and impact. Released on May 22, this survey was open through June 25 and led to 168 survey responses. A breakdown of results is included on pages 12-13 of the plan.
“Providence’s focus on frontline communities, who are most at risk from the impacts of climate change, is groundbreaking,” said Good Energy New England Director Philip Carr. “Community Choice Aggregation is a powerful tool to further the City’s goals for energy democracy.”
“As we look for urgent ways to address the climate crisis, Community Choice Aggregation serves as a tangible and strong climate action tool, while making cleaner and more affordable electricity accessible to all residents in Providence,” said Green Energy Consumers Alliance Rhode Island Director Priscilla De La Cruz.
Providence is poised to be the third community in Rhode Island to conduct a public hearing on its Draft Community Choice Aggregation Plan, which will be hosted by the Environmental Sustainability Task Force on Wednesday, July 15th at 5:00 PM via Zoom. The results of this hearing, including comments and responses to comments, will be included in the final plan version to be presented to the Council on Thursday, July 16th.
Once approved by the City Council via Resolution, the plan will be submitted to the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission. The Public Utilities Commission will then begin their own review process, to ensure that the Plan complies with the statute, including holding a second public hearing organized by the Commission.
Once the Public Utilities Commission approves that plan, then the City, working with Good Energy, may solicit competitive bids. Providence and the Good Energy team have also been working with other communities in Rhode Island including Central Falls, Barrington, Portsmouth, and South Kingstown to solicit bids together, further aggregating electricity in order to get an even more competitive rate. The City is never under obligation to select a supplier. If pricing is not competitive and does not meet the City’s goals, Good Energy will conduct additional bids.