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Greenfield moving ahead with bulk rate electricity

Recorder/Peter MacDonald
Greenfield Mayor William Martin in his office in the town hall

Recorder/Peter MacDonald Greenfield Mayor William Martin in his office in the town hall

GREENFIELD — The mayor is moving ahead with plans for the town to help Greenfield residents save money by buying electricity at bulk rates and then selling it to them.

Mayor William Martin, who met with Peregrine Energy Group of Boston last week, said Peregrine will have a contract proposal for the town within the next two weeks.

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.

Martin said once the contract proposal has been reviewed by the town’s lawyer, the town will hold public forums to find out what residents want from a municipal aggregation.

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

Collins said residents would still get their bills from Western Mass. Electric Co., and would call WMECO if there was a problem. The electric company would also continue to read residents’ 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.

Martin said every resident would automatically purchase electricity through the town, unless they opted out.

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

If the town decides to purchase electricity in bulk, residents could also choose their energy source: wind or solar, for example.

The town has been working on the idea of municipal aggregation for the past three years.

Martin said the plan is to present the proposal to residents over the next several months, get Department of Public Utilities approval — which it will need to proceed — by October or November, get final approval from Town Council by the end of the year, and be purchasing and selling electricity by the beginning of 2014.

“We’ve been doing all of this at no cost to the town, because we’ve been using grant money to proceed,” said Martin. “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.”

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

Commercial use, which includes 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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