New electric agreement would save residents money

New electric agreement would save residents money

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Town electric customers could soon have the option of saving some money on utility bills if local officials sign an agreement with a Massachusetts company.

The Town Council’s finance subcommittee, at a meeting this Thursday, July 18, at 5:30 p.m. in Town Hall, will hold a discussion and possible vote on a resolution between the town and the Colonial Power Group.

The company, which bills itself as the leading aggregation consulting firm in Massachusetts, would sign on to be the power distributor for the town, saving residents on distribution charges, said Ken Amoriggi, who heads up the committee.

“We want to get out in front of it to see if this is something that could be beneficial to the town and its residents,” he said.

There were some discussions between Colonial Power and the town last year, said Amoriggi, but those seemed to trail off. Colonial Power made a presentation to the previous finance subcommittee headed by former Councilor Ray DeStefanis, he said, but that committee never took a vote. He recalls there being some concerns at the time due to the vagueness of the proposal.

But Colonial Power is now back, said Amoriggi, its representatives bringing with them a growing track record of success in Massachusetts, adding Boston this year as the headliner on some 40 community partnerships.

According to a Boston Globe story in March, Colonial Power was chosen to coordinate a massive electricity purchase on behalf of some 190,000 residential accounts and up to 31,000 business accounts in Boston.

With the community choice aggregation offered by Colonial Power and other companies, the vast majority of electric accounts in a community are switched away from the current supplier, in North Providence’s case National Grid/Narragansett Electric, as part of a push toward greener energy.

North Providence would be the first Rhode Island community to sign on with Colonial Power, said Lombardi this week. He said “the election got in the way” of the proposal last year.

Residents, said Lombardi, “can get in and they can get out” of the program, with no one obligated to it. The total annual savings for town residents combined should add up to a few dollars per ratepayer each month.

“It all boils down to how many take part in it,” he said. “There should be significant savings town-wide.”

Colonial Power has a solid track record, he said.

“You know me, if we have the chance to jump on and be the leader of the pack and it’s something decent, I’m down,” he said.

Amoriggi noted that the average savings projected last year was about $15 per month per ratepayer, “which is really good for people on limited incomes,” he said.

He said the concern last year, and it remains a question that must be clarified, is how simple and easy it is for residents to opt in or opt out of the program at any time. One way of getting the information out is to send it with the annual tax bills. It’s important, said Amoriggi, that even those who aren’t tech savvy know how to opt out if they desire to.

Why might someone want to opt out? There are other power providers in the area, said Amoriggi, and they might periodically be offering better rates.

During a council meeting last August, Colonial Power representatives Thomas Ahern and Mark Cappadona explained this program as a billing mechanism. Ahern said the town enters into an agreement on power and then provides that power to all residents and businesses in town. Narragansett Electric is still responsible for all poles, wires, etc., he said.

Colonial Power wants to provide residents with choice, lower cost and the opportunity for the town to have a revenue stream, said Cappadona and Ahern. Cappadona said the company offers a choice on energy. The town will bundle anyone on standard offer, but at the end of the day, the resident has the choice and there are no added staff or tax dollars needed, he said. At that meeting the council voted unanimously to refer the matter to its finance subcommittee.