On December 7, the Quincy City Council unanimously approved a plan that will increase the proportion of our electricity that comes from renewable sources. The plan, called Quincy Community Electricity (QCE), enables the city to engage a new default supplier of electricity for residents and small businesses, using our pooled buying power to secure bulk pricing that will be more stable, and possibly lower, than current rates. While Massachusetts currently requires 16% of electricity to come from renewable sources such as hydropower, wind, or solar, Quincy will seek a supplier that generates a higher proportion from renewables. The default offering will be 10% additional renewably sourced electricity; residents will also be able to opt up to 50 or 100%, or opt down to the state-mandated amount.
Unless they opt out prior to the program launch or are under contract with another supplier, customers will be automatically switched to the new supplier. However, customers can also opt out of the program at any time with no penalty. National Grid will continue to deliver the city’s electricity, maintain its infrastructure, and bill customers, remitting payment to the new supplier. “It won’t cost residents or the average Quincy taxpayer anything in terms of convenience,” says QCAN board member Joe Murphy. “They won’t feel a change in their life, but they will be helping the environment and possibly saving money.”
While National Grid changes its rates every six months, the new supply rates will be locked, possibly for a two- or three-year contract. “I really view this as a great opportunity for Quincy residents and small businesses to take more control over their electricity and to promote a sustainable electricity supply,” says Shelly Dein, the city’s Energy and Sustainability Director. “The city is making a commitment to purchase renewable energy, so large solar and wind energy producers know they will have a market and be able to finance their projects.”
This is a huge step towards a sustainable future for Quincy. The city’s residents and small businesses use about 150 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year; if three-quarters of users switch to QCE’s default offering, carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced annually by 5,500 metric tons. That’s equivalent to removing 1,200 cars from the roads per year.
Bids will be solicited from suppliers after the plan is approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, and at that time, the city will select the supplier and determine the contract term and pricing. The city will launch an outreach campaign to educate the public before the switch, with the help of the consultant firm Good Energy. QCAN, which has bee n involved with this issue since 2018, aims to help with outreach, including encouraging consumers to opt up to a higher percentage of renewable sources.
About 150 out of 304 eligible municipalities in Massachusetts currently participate in similar plans, including Boston and Worcester.