Protection for Consumers
Energy issues can be complex and decisions made by legislators or state regulators can have far-reaching impacts on what consumers pay for their electricity. Decisions made at the state level also affect what programs are available for energy efficiency or renewable energy like solar. That’s why the Cape Light Compact has a special focus on Consumer Advocacy.
In one of our first efforts in 1999, the Compact was successful in securing $25 million to reduce electric bills of consumers on the Cape and Vineyard. We have won additional reductions since that time and maintain a steady vigilance on proposals that can affect consumers.
Consumer Advocacy Timeline
Challenge to NSTAR Cost Recovery Proposal
Through a DPU proceeding, the Compact challenged aspects of NSTAR’s proposal to recover costs from NSTAR distribution customers. NSTAR’s proposed changes would have increased distribution charges to residential customers. The DPU agreed with the Compact’s objection, preventing the increase in residential rates
Promoting Standards for Distributed Generation
The Compact plays a strong, active role in developing standards for allowing distributed generation facilities to interconnect to local distribution systems. The interconnection of distributed generation systems helps to achieve the Commonwealth’s renewable energy goals, increase fuel diversity, and increase the resiliency of the local distribution system.
Promoting Grid Modernization
The DPU is developing a plan for implementing “smart grid” elements, as part of overall “Grid Modernization”. Grid Modernization has the potential for great savings for consumers, but can also require large expenditures. The Compact focuses on ensuring that investments are made in technologies that provide benefits to consumers that justify costs, and that utilities are properly incentivized and not overly compensated for their participation.
Standards for Long-term Renewable Energy Contracts
As required by statute, NSTAR enters into long-term renewable energy contracts. NSTAR’s proposed recovery mechanism would have passed on savings from the contract only to its Basic Service customers. The Compact proposed an alternative approach designed to share savings from the contracts with all NSTAR customers. The DPU adopted this approach and continues to use a similar approach with other long-term contracts. For this contract, $111 million in savings was shifted from NSTAR’s basic service customers (which does not include all NSTAR customers) to NSTAR’s distribution customers, which includes all NSTAR customers including Compact customers.
Protecting Consumer Interests during the NSTAR Merger
The Compact participated in meetings and briefings that followed NSTAR’s announcement of its merger with Northeast Utilities. The Compact worked to ensure that the merger did not result in increased costs, decreased reliability or other issues for consumers on the Cape and Vineyard.
Advocacy for Low-income Rate Payers
The Compact helped to ensure that eligible low-income residents on the Cape and Vineyard are able to receive discounted electric service rates.
NSTAR Green Intervention
The Compact intervened to minimize the costs associated with the voluntary NSTAR Green Program that were being charged to all NSTAR distribution customers whether or not they were in the program. This benefitted all NSTAR distribution customers including those on the Cape and Vineyard
Purchases of Municipal Streetlights
The Compact helped to negotiate municipal purchase of streetlights on the Cape and Vineyard from NSTAR. This resulted in municipal savings in operations and maintenance costs, and also made it possible for the Compact to work with the municipalities to replace streetlights with highly efficiency LED. The LEDs streetlights will save towns $800,000 per year.
Sale of Canal Electric Plant
The Compact intervened in Commonwealth Electric’s sale of the Canal Electric Plant, resulting in $25 million in savings to the Cape and Vineyard.
The Compact’s work on behalf of consumers is really important because
- Interests of consumers on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard don’t necessarily align with the concerns of consumers in the rest of the state.
- The policy decisions made at the state level today will shape the issues we face and the costs we’ll pay far into the future.
So the advocacy program is about today and tomorrow. In this section we will try to keep you updated on what we’ve done and what we’re doing on behalf of Cape and Vineyard consumers.
Please contact us with any concerns or questions you might have.