Haverhill’s Electricity Supplier Pulls the Plug on New Enrollments; Mayor says 16,000 will Still Benefit

A National Grid crew makes repairs. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The City of Haverhill’s discount energy supplier pulled the plug Thursday—at least temporarily—on some residents hoping to save hundreds each month on home electricity costs.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini and Energy Consultant Orlando Pacheco told the public Tuesday night that those who were not automatically enrolled in the city program for whatever reason could still “opt in” on Marlborough-based Colonial Power Group’s website. By Thursday morning, 363 people took advantage of the chance to join before the company closed the option.

“The current supplier for the City of Haverhill’s Community Choice Power Supply Program has informed us that, given the extraordinarily high energy costs in the current market, they will not add any new customers to the aggregation and will not be processing any OPT-IN forms. They have said that adding new customers will jeopardize the entire aggregation for everyone,” a statement read.

It turns out, the city’s contract with the supplier, Residents Energy, allowed the company to halt new enrollments, saying it “does not guarantee that any individual Eligible Consumer will be served by the Competitive Supplier.”

Attorney General Maura Healey’s office told WHAV it has some concerns and is seeking more information.

Fiorentini told WHAV that when he spoke before the City Council Tuesday night, he wasn’t thinking about caps on new enrollments.

“I can’t say it’s something that I deliberately thought about, but it makes sense. There’s only a certain amount of people that can subscribe to and when they go out and buy the energy, they buy it based upon a certain number of people,” he said.

During Tuesday’s presentation, the mayor said residents could save more than $200 a month on their electricity bills. He and Pacheco told city councilors a 10.8 cents per kilowatt rate from Newark, N.J.-based Residents Energy is locked in through November of 2023, while National Grid’s rate will be closer to 32 cents per kilowatt hour.

Newer residents or those with new National Grid accounts do not appear to have been automatically added to the city’s two-year-old “aggregation” plan, prompting questions about whether the city’s most vulnerable residents were improperly omitted from the savings plan. Fiorentini said figures he received show that 2,900 households chose to stay with National Grid when the program rolled out two years ago.

Those who believe they may have been excluded from the program by mistake may call Colonial Power Group’s hotline at 866-485-5858, ext. 1.

The mayor said, most residents will benefit. “Sixteen thousand households in Haverhill will not get the 61% National Grid increase because we had the foresight to signup for this great program,” the mayor said.

WHAV reported two years ago that Haverhill entered into a three-year agreement with Colonial Power Group that called for residents to be automatically enrolled with an alternative electricity provider. At the time, residents had about a month to “opt-out” and switch to another supplier.

Colonial Power Group President Mark Cappadona added, “The Haverhill Community Choice Program provides local control, the strength of buying in bulk and competition, which combine to help lower the burden of energy costs for Haverhill ratepayers.”

A call to Cappadona was not returned by news deadline.

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