Officials say prospects are “very positive” for state approval of rate pooling, or aggregation, for Haverhill residential and business electric customers before an expected winter rate hike in November.
A public hearing in Boston Monday by the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) on the city’s proposed “Community Choice Power Supply Aggregation Plan” went “very favorably,” according to Energy Manager and Purchasing Agent Orlando Pacheco. He represented the city at the hearing along with Attorney James Avery, counsel for broker/consultant Colonial Power Group Inc., Marlborough. Pacheco told WHAV there also were “no real objections” from others including representatives for utilities, Attorney General Maura Healey’s office and consumer advocates. The aggregation plan could be out to market within the next few months.
“I think our plan is very standard and it’s really no different from most of the plans that have been approved by the DPU. We didn’t think there was going to be much objection going into the meeting. That being said, we can’t go out to market until we receive a formal order from the DPU and we don’t have an exact timetable on when that will happen,” Pacheco said.
Pacheco described two waivers sought by the city on state regulation for power supply indemnity and information disclosure as “standard.”
“People can come in and out of the aggregation but the supplier still has to service the load regardless of how the load changes. And that’s just a consumer protection provision the city has to implement and, really, aggregation has to function that way in order for us to protect the consumer to get in and out without having some fees assessed. The second waiver, which is also standard….Every so often you will get a mailer from National Grid and that mailer will let you know how your power supply is made up…. The city asked for a waiver saying instead of sending that notice to every consumer in the city we’re going to post it publicly in a place where people can view it at their leisure,” Pacheco said.
However, Pacheco also said timing within the next two months could prevent an issue with another winter basic rate hike based on gas supply and demand.
“If we can’t get out to market before the winter spike, we’re gonna have to wait until after the winter spike. Because to get into contract terms during that period of volatility, not unless there are some sort of market condition that changes, that provides some stability, we don’t think that would be the most conducive time to go out to the residents,” Pacheco said.
Last November, electric provider National Grid increased its winter rate on basic electric service by 37 percent during the winter heating season which ended April 30.