New expert study & report by Analysis Group documents strong “muni” execution on
Global Warming Solutions Act targets, 42% lower electric rates.
Customers of Massachusetts’ municipal electric utilities receive reliable electricity at rates on average 42 percent lower than the state average. At the same time, Massachusetts' municipal utilities are also delivering nearly 60 percent more of their total electricity from non-carbon-emitting power sources like solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear.
Those are among the key findings from a new expert study performed by Analysis Group and commissioned by the Municipal Electric Association of Massachusetts (MEAM) with engagement from 24 clients who receive wholesale power and energy services from Energy New England (ENE).
The study, “Fuel Mix and Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Municipal Electric Light Plants in Massachusetts,” was researched and written by Analysis Group Principal Paul J. Hibbard, a former chairman of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, and Vice President Pavel Darling.
“This report documents how municipal light plants have been leading the way in fulfilling the Commonwealth’s mission of 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. Public power utilities have been steadily delivering on our state’s Global Warming Solutions Act targets through thoughtful, community-based decision making around which projects and contractual agreements best serve their communities’ energy and environmental goals,” says ENE President and CEO John G. Tzimoranga.
State Representative Thomas A. Golden, Jr. (D-Lowell), Chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, said, “For years we’ve seen that municipal utilities have been committed to driving Massachusetts’ clean energy transformation by implementing strategic choices for energy supply that are decided locally and make the most sense for the local communities the MLP’s serve. This report documents, in thorough detail, how municipal utilities are proving they’re fully committed to achieving the Commonwealth’s emissions reduction goals through the Global Warming Solutions Act. I commend ENE and their members and look forward to working with you to facilitate further opportunities to build upon your clean energy accomplishments to date."
Based on a comprehensive review of 2017 data from the regional power grid manager, Independent System Operator New England (ISO-NE) and data obtained from Massachusetts’ 40 municipal electric utilities, the Analysis Group report shows that:
94 percent of municipal utilities’ owned/operated and contracted power generation supply comes from non-emitting sources like hydro, nuclear, solar, and wind, compared to just 57 percent of the overall New England power generation mix.
After factoring in spot-market purchases of power to complement owned and contracted resources, Massachusetts municipal utilities get 75 percent of their customers’ electricity from non-emitting generation, compared to just 47 percent for Massachusetts overall. (New England’s competitive hourly wholesale electric market, not choices by individual utilities, determines what mix of fuels is used to generate spot-market power.)
While Massachusetts’ investor-owned utilities source just 15.7 percent of their total power from renewable generation, Massachusetts’ municipal utilities source 34.9 percent, more than twice as much.
Based on 2018-19 rate data, Massachusetts’ municipal utilities continue to beat the state’s electricity cost average by 42 percent. A typical customer using 500 kilowatt-hours per month pays municipal utilities on average $70.43 per month. That compares to bills of on average $123.97 for non-municipal Massachusetts utilities and $103.29 for New England customers on average. Massachusetts’ municipal utility rates are 32 percent lower than average New England electric rates.
The report also documents Massachusetts municipal light plants’ extensive and successful efforts to lower greenhouse gas reductions through promoting energy efficiency, electric vehicles, distributed solar energy, energy storage, and advanced metering infrastructure. Every one of the 41 MLPs, for example, has either replaced all their city and town streetlights with high-efficiency LEDs or are currently in the process of completing replacement projects.
As Analysis Group’s Hibbard and Darling write in the study, “The MLPs have been a consistent, productive, and highly effective partner in Massachusetts’ efforts to reduce GHG and foster the development of advanced energy technologies, and are well positioned to continue to support these requirements and targets on a going-forward basis. MLPs’ past actions also demonstrate that letting the current structure continue to be the basis for MLP actions is the best way to support the MLP’s ongoing partnership with the state in its GHG reduction efforts … MLPs are far ahead of the New England region and the Massachusetts IOUs [investor-owned utilities] when it comes to the transition to a cleaner resource mix, a lower carbon emission portfolio, and proactive investment in the advanced energy technologies that will play a crucial role in longer-term progress."
Massachusetts’ 41 municipal light plants serve more than 400,000 customers statewide and deliver one-seventh of all electricity consumed in Massachusetts.