It makes no sense to eliminate a competitive electricity market – Commonwealth Journal

It makes no sense to eliminate the competitive electricity market

in the last year He was not kind to Massachusetts Electricity ratepayers – at least some of them.

For customers who don’t shop around and choose their own energy provider, the average price of housing rises In National Grid’s service area it was more than $110 a month last winter, An increase of 64 percent. in Eversource service areaInterest rates rose by 42 percent. It was all part of the largest electricity rate increase in recent memory It flagged the Commonwealth as having one of the highest rates of “default” – the term used to refer to consumers who do not shop around for electricity supply – in the country..

Fortunately, there was a relief valve for customers facing this price shock. Massachusetts Allow electricity Customers to shop for an alternative provider, that is In the winter, all 32 residential competitive rate plans listed on were cheaper than National Grid’s basic service rate. The truth is, if all the customers of the national network shopped and contracted even with the average competitive Last winter’s offer (not to mention the cheapest offer), could have saved these customers more than $329 million. That’s almost a billion dollars in savings then We include Eversource and Unitil.

These numbers are not hypothetical. All our clients an act Make the choice when they entrust us to be their supplier. Residential customers in Massachusetts of our largest brand, Direct Energy, have saved $15.4 million on utility rates since December of last year, when utility rates began rising.

So you can understand why I’m confused when I think that Massachusetts is considering eliminating its competitive electricity market altogether. if Passed, New law That would take away your ability to shop for cheaper electricity rates at the same time you need more affordable energy options, not fewer.

Eliminating competition in the electricity sector will not help “regulate” the market; That would tie everyone to the same monopoly bandwagon. Eliminating competition means fewer affordable options for customers who struggle with higher costs due to the region’s reliance on natural gas. It would eliminate 100% renewable energy options for customers willing to pay a little more to support carbon reduction. It would stifle the innovations that will become possible now that utilities are finally starting to invest in modernizing the grid. In short, this would be a huge step in the wrong direction, and at precisely the wrong time.

the The move to eliminate customers’ choice is prompted in part by reports from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. The cost savings we mentioned above We are From this past winter. By contrast, AG The studies are outdated, and the latest one is in 2021. This is missing the whole game. Decisions should be based on the latest information, not outdated data from a world that looked very different.

Finally, there is no increase in consumer complaints that warrant the drastic action being considered by the Legislature. Attorney General data shows the number of complaints against competing suppliers fell by 77 percent from 2018 to 2022, and are comparable to those levied against the largest utilities.

However, there are ways to make the market more consumer friendly. As in any industry, bad actors in a competitive supply industry must be punished or removed. The licenses of dodgy companies should be cancelled. Simply. this Additional enforcement efforts may be required. A government office should be established to oversee the retail market, with funding from competing suppliers, which would increase the ability to enforce regulations and provide greater transparency to consumers.

The law establishing a competitive electrical market has not been updated since its issuance more than 25 years ago. It is time to amend the law, not end it. It is time to improve consumer choice, not eliminate it. If we do this, we will be able to protect Massachusetts consumers while continuing to provide the choices they want and deserve.

Travis Cavola is Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at NRG Energy.

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