WORCESTER - The city is taking a significant step toward decreasing the community's carbon footprint by embarking on a municipal aggregation program intended to provide local electricity customers with at least double the amount of local renewable energy required by state law.

City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. announced Tuesday that the city has entered into a 34-month contract with Direct Energy Sources LLC to buy electricity for the Worcester Community Choice Electricity Aggregation program, which is scheduled to launch in February.

He said the goal of the program is to significantly increase the amount of renewable electricity in Worcester's supply while charging electricity customers about the same as what they would pay for National Grid's basic service.

Municipal aggregation, which became law in Massachusetts in 1998, allows the city to buy electricity on behalf of a group of ratepayers within the city boundaries.

The program allows cities and towns to choose the electricity supplier for their electricity customers rather than having the local electric utility — National Grid for Worcester — buy the electricity.

"We developed this program with consumer protections so that we could provide Worcester community members with a city-vetted, transparent alternative to other electricity supply offers in the marketplace," Augustus said in a statement.

Through the program, participating customers in Worcester will receive an additional 20% renewable electricity from renewal energy projects in New England, according to Mike Vigneux, the city's media relations specialist.

He said that is over and above the minimum amount required by state law, for a total of 36% renewable electricity in 2020, 38% in 2021, and 40% in 2020.

Vigneux said adding such a significant amount of renewable electricity to Worcester's electricity supply will be roughly equal to removing more than 6,000 passenger vehicles from the roads or eliminating energy use for more than 3,500 homes for each year of the electricity contract.

• Program participants will be automatically enrolled in "Worcester Standard Green" and receive 20% renewable electricity in addition to the 16% state-required minimum in 2020 for a price of 11.442 cents/kWh. That compares to National Grid's six-month winter residential basic service price of 13.957 cents/kWh, which will be in effect when the program launches in February.

• Participants can also choose "Worcester 100% Green" to receive 100% renewable electricity, all from renewable energy projects in New England, at a price of 14.031 cents/kWh.

In addition to providing additional renewable electricity, Vigneux said the program will also provide price stability for almost three years.

"The long duration of the price makes the program different from National Grid’s basic service, which most electricity customers in Worcester have," he said. "National Grid’s fixed basic service prices change every six months for residential and commercial customers and every three months for industrial customers."

Vigneux emphasized, however, that while the program aims to be equal to or lower than the average of regularly fluctuating National Grid prices, it cannot guarantee that it will be equal to or lower than National Grid’s basic service price because future basic service prices are unknown.

He said local electricity customers who have National Grid's basic service and have not signed a private contract with an electricity supplier will be automatically enrolled in the Worcester Community Choice Electricity Aggregation program.

Because participation in the Worcester Community Choice Electricity Aggregation program is not required, local electricity customers may opt out of the program before being automatically enrolled, or, if they choose to participate, they may opt out anytime after being enrolled with no penalty or fee.

"There will be no hidden costs or other hidden provisions, and participants will be able to leave the program at any time with no penalty," Vigneux said.

Customers who have already signed a contract with an electricity supplier will not be automatically enrolled but are welcome to participate in the program.

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More information about how to enroll is available at WorcesterCommunityChoice.com or by calling 833-926-1207.

Public information sessions will be held at 6 p.m. Nov. 18 at City Hall (City Council Economic Development Committee meeting), and 10:30 a.m. Nov. 21 at the Worcester Senior Center.

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