Massachusetts opened up to electric choice in the late 1990s, after a series of deregulation measures carried out by the state. Prior to electric choice, Massachusetts electric customers were forced to purchase electricity through the local default utility. Electricity deregulation essentially unbundled the services that the utility companies could provide and profit off.
Electric choice meant that public utilities were no longer allowed to profit off the sale of actual electric supply – instead, they can now only make their money from delivering the electricity to home. This is called transmission and distribution. In contrast, electric supply is what Massachusetts citizens can now shop around for.
Retail Electricity Providers Offer Lower Rates in Massachusetts
The companies that homes and businesses can purchase electricity supply from are called “retail electricity providers.” Retail electricity providers are often able to offer lower rates than the default utilities because of the competition that stems from electric choice.
With competition, shopping customers may benefit through:
- Lower rates
- Customized and flexible plans
- More innovative products and services
When customers decide to make the switch, the default utility will still continue to deliver the electricity to homes and businesses with the same reliability as before. The utility will also continue to deliver electric bills, maintain all the wires and poles that deliver the electricity, and respond to emergencies such as downed lines and power outages. Delivery and transmission charges will not change no matter from who you receive your electric supply.
How to Compare Retail Electricity Providers
Comparing retail electricity providers is pretty simple, especially since we’ve created a tool that does all the busy work for you. If you scroll to the top of this page, you’ll find a convenient “Compare & Switch” tool (the orange box). To get started, type in your zip code and click “Compare!” Once you’ve selected your utility, you’ll be able to see a list of reputable providers that do business in your area as well as their low rates.
To compare rates, you’ll need to know what you’re currently paying for electric supply through your utility. This rate is found on your electricity bill under “supply” or “generation” charges. You’ll see that you pay for electricity in cents per “kilowatt hours” (cents/kWh). The average residential customer, for instance, uses about 500 kWh per month. Businesses, of course, can use a lot more.
Once you know your rate, you’ll want to look for a lower rate with the providers in the list. There are a few other things that you’ll also want to keep in mind when comparing:
- Fixed v. Variable Rates – Some plans offer rates that don’t change for the duration of the contract, while others offer rates that vary along with wholesale market prices for electricity. The choice is yours.
- Length of the contract – If you believe that your utility’s rates will go down soon, choose a shorter contract; if you believe that rates will go up, choose a longer contract.
- Green or Traditional – Since the price of renewable energy is going down, providers are able to offer partial or 100% green plans that source electricity from green, renewable sources for often less that the default utility’s rate for traditionally-sourced electricity.
- Other Incentives to Switch – Some providers offer sign-on bonuses, hefty rewards programs, innovative products and services, and discounts or free services such as HVAC repair.
How to Switch to a Retail Electricity Provider
Once you’ve found the best plan for your home or business’s needs, switching is fast and easy. You can sign up through the tool by clicking on the plan you like and filling out the online form. Otherwise, just give the provider a call and ask to switch. In either case, you’ll need a recent utility bill on hand so you can pull your account information.
There’s no need to call the utility once you’ve made the switch since your new provider just did all the switching for you. And remember, the utility will still send your bill, respond to emergencies, and deliver your electricity for the same price and same reliability as before.
Public Utilities in Massachusetts
Massachusetts utilities include:
- Fitchburg Gas & Electric Light (Unitil)
- Massachusetts Electric (National Grid)
- Nantucket Electric (National Grid)
- Western Massachusetts Electric
All public utilities in Massachusetts are regulated by the State’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU).
POWER SAVERS CORNER
Because the best way to save money on energy costs while also saving the environment is to use LESS power.