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Bulk rate electricity almost reality for Greenfield

GREENFIELD — The mayor’s attempt to create a municipal aggregation that would save the town money by buying electricity at bulk rates needs only to be approved by the state before it is sent to voters.

Mayor William Martin has discussed the possibility of the town creating its own power company for several years and said this week that he is excited to see it so close to coming to fruition.

Martin has been working with Peregrine Energy Group of Boston to create a plan that would allow the town not only to save money, but to sell electricity at a lower rate to residents and businesses.

“This will be a great economic development tool for us,” said Martin. “Large companies use a lot of electricity and we will be able to offer them reduced prices. It will be a great marketing tool for attracting new businesses.”

If the state approves, the move could end up saving the town and any resident or business who wants to sign on between 50 cents and $2 per month on electric bills.

While Martin said it may not seem like a lot, the town would also be able to offer itself and others a choice in what type of energy would be used on an individual basis.

Carole Collins, the town’s energy-sustainability coordinator, said nothing will change for residents, except the savings.

She said resident will still get their bills directly from Western Massachusetts Electric Co., and will call WMECO if there is a problem. The electric company will continue to read meters.

“It would simply be a way for residents to purchase the power they want through the town, and save a little money doing so,” said Collins.

Martin said if the state Department of Public Utilities approves the town’s plan, every resident will automatically purchase electricity through the town, unless they decide to opt out.

“They could do that at any time,” said Martin.

He said residents and businesses will also be able to choose the type of energy source they want, including wind or solar, for example.

The mayor has been working on the idea for the past three or four years.

Martin said the town could be selling electricity beginning some time later this year or the beginning of next.

Once the DPU has given its approval, Town Council will need to do the same and then it is on to voters to finalize the deal.

Martin said the entire process has been at no cost to the town, because it has used grant money to proceed through the different phases.

“The goal is to increase the amount of electricity generated by town projects so everyone’s bill would be lowered and dependence on energy from foreign and environmentally degrading sources would be decreased,” said Martin. “We are moving toward a truly ‘green’ Greenfield.”

According to town officials, based on data provided by WMECO on electricity used by homes in Greenfield, the total use for an entire years is about $4.1 million in supply costs alone. That does not include delivery costs.

Commercial use — including municipal, state and federal accounts located in Greenfield — totals about 69,887 megawatt hours and industrial accounts add an additional 14,183 megawatt hours.

There are about 8,000 residential electricity accounts with WMECO in Greenfield and more than 1,000 commercial accounts. There are also more than 30 industrial accounts, according to data.

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