Lower utility bills on the horizon for residents in participating Pioneer Valley towns. Reply

Many Pioneer Valley homeowners and renters will soon be able to spend less money on electricity through access to wholesale markets made possible by the Hampshire Council of Governments (HCOG), a regional consortium of towns that replaced the county government, through its energy supplier service, Hampshire Power. Hampshire Power has already saved $2.1 million for 100 towns in the five western Massachusetts counties; they are working to expand that service to residents.

HCOG recently announced that the towns of Gill, Heath, and Whately will join other area towns in an application for the residential electric service that is currently pending approval from the Department of Public Utilities (DPU).

Hampshire Power would supply the electricity to residents who decide to participate, but utility companies like Western Mass Electric Company (WMECO) and National Grid will provide the delivery and maintenance of the delivery systems, according to their website. HCOG can take advantage of wholesale electricity markets by leveraging the member towns’ purchasing power.

The towns of Belchertown, Brookfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Conway, Cummington, Deerfield, East Brookfield, Goshen, Granby, Hadley, Hatfield, Huntington, Leverett, Middlefield, Montague, North Brookfield, Northfield, Pelham, Plainfield, Rowe, Southampton, Warwick, Wendell, West Brookfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg and the City of Easthampton have already signed onto the application and petition being reviewed by DPU presently.

Other area towns are also working toward signing onto the application, as well.

When this municipal aggregation takes effect, it will likely benefit the economic development development of the towns that are participating as businesses will have lower operating costs.  Reduced electricity costs will also benefit the real estate market in the towns participating in the program because homes with lower energy costs are more desirable than homes with higher energy costs.

Gills’ Selectboard Chair Ann Banash offered her support for the program.

“It’s wonderful when towns can come together to help their resident’s save money,” she said in a HCOG press release.

In the same press release, Heath Selectman Thomas Lively highlighted the benefits of the municipal aggregation electricity program to small towns.

“This program is a good program for all cities and towns, but is especially helpful in small towns like ours, where we have no businesses to help offset property taxes,” said Lively. “This will provide some assistance/relief to our residents.”

One of the key benefits of the program is that residents are not required to get their electricity from Hampshire Power if their town signs onto the program, which was an aspect of the service that appeals to Whately Board of Selectmen Chairman Jonathan Edwards.

“This program provides greater consumer choice in a more convenient way,” Edwards said in a press release. “At the end of the day, it is a consumer choice and that is a good thing.”

If you are planning on buying or selling a home in the Pioneer Valley, make your first call to Michael Seward at 413-531-7129. You can also email me at michael.seward@comcast.net.

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