March 10, 2020
If you’re like other Quincy residents, you’ve been getting even more phone calls and marketing letters than usual from energy suppliers touting cheaper and sometimes greener electricity, claims that have often proven deceptive according to a 2019 report by Attorney General Maura Healey.
We wonder if the accelerated pace of these offers has anything to do with progress being made on the Green Municipal Aggregation (GMA) plan that was recently approved by our city council. Formulated by Mayor Thomas Koch and championed by Quincy Climate Action Network, Quincy’s GMA plan, which awaits state approval, will give the city’s residents a truly clean choice, including price stability and greener power. In addition, GMA, unlike many plans from the so-called competitive energy suppliers, will allow you to opt out at any time and go back to basic service from National Grid with no penalty.
“For too long,” Mayor Koch has said, unscrupulous suppliers “have sold Quincy residents, particularly seniors, a bill of goods.” During just one sample month, in fact, electricity from these suppliers cost Quincy residents $134,899, or $14.52 per household, more than what they would have paid for basic service, according to Attorney General Healey’s report. The report documents such practices as calls to phone numbers on the Do Not Call list; calls so frequent they constitute harassment; bogus claims that the supplier is affiliated with a utility or state agency; bogus claims of cheaper rates; high termination fees; and switching consumers to a competitive supplier’s plan without consent. The report even documents instances of salespeople forcing their way into people’s houses and refusing to leave without a signed contract.
While some competitive suppliers claim to be selling greener electricity, those claims have been questioned or found misleading. As the AG states in her report, “Existing law does not require suppliers to report this ‘extra’ renewable energy … and, to the best of my knowledge, no reliable statistics or information on these purchases exists for suppliers in Massachusetts.” A close look at some of the plans on offer reveals that the green power they supposedly provide may come from faraway places that aren’t even connected to the New England power grid.
Unlike the power from competitive suppliers, green power from Quincy’s GMA plan will be vetted by the state and city to make sure it comes from local renewable sources such as Massachusetts-based wind turbines and solar farms, and the rates for GMA electricity will actually be competitive.
That’s why we suggest that anyone tempted by attractive-sounding promises of cheaper and greener electric power hold off for another nine months or so, until Quincy’s GMA plan goes into effect.
Board Chair, Quincy Climate Action Network