HANSON — Residents will be able to participate in a public review period now underway surrounding the GoodEnergy aggregate energy savings plan approved by voters at the May Town Meeting.
The review period, which began Tuesday, Dec. 14, will culminate in a public hearing slated for Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, according to plan representative Patrick Roche who briefed Selectmen Tuesday.
Hanson Community Electricity will not launch this winter. It is not expected to go online until spring or summer 2023 Roche said.
After the public comment period, the Select Board will have the opportunity to vote on the plan, which would be followed by a state-level review by the Department of Public Utilities, while — at the same time — review will be done by the Department of Energy Resources.
“I think we’ll be at the DPU for at least a year,” Roche said. “We’re hoping things can go faster.”
Hanson Energy Committee Chairman Marianne DiMascio said the panel has been working with Roche’s company as a consultant on an aggregation plan since the Town Meeting vote, following research and positive feedback from other towns.
“Community choice aggregation is almost like a buyer’s club for electricity, where we’ll be able to negotiate a rate for electricity and the town members will get that rate,” she said. “There are a lot of steps to go through.”
Hanson does not pay for the GoodEnergy consulting services, because it is part of a state law that provides for aggregation.
“This is a program to create new electricity supply choices for residents and businesses in the town of Hanson,” Roche said. His company worked with Town Administrator Lisa Green and the Energy Committee to develop a plan based on GoodEnergy’s best practices in working with about 50 communities around the state.
Now comes the chance for the public to comment.
“Once the state approves the plan — which is rather formulaic, they’ve now approved about 130 different plans — then the town is in a position to be going out to bid for an electricity supplier,” Roche said. “We would be the broker in that case, advising on when to go to bid, what conditions would be an acceptable bid. … You are never under an obligation to start this program.”
If the town dislikes a plan, it can opt to pause, or not go through with it, even after the DPU approval.
“We do an extensive public education period before launch,” he said. “We want to make everyone aware of this new program coming because it is, effectively, a new default electricity supply for the community.”
People can opt out — and come in and out of the program as they please. State law requires that consumers be automatically enrolled if they are not now in a savings program, but they may opt out within 30 days, with information made available to help with that choice.
Those already enrolled in other electricity savings programs will be able to stay with those programs unless they take individual action to opt into it. Solar panel or low-income programs are not affected by the existence of the aggregate program. National Grid will continue to handle billing and grid maintenance.
The goals are to expand consumer choice and provide predictable electricity rates as well as to go beyond state renewable energy demands.
“We aim to provide savings, but it’s always relative to your electricity bills,” Roche said. “We’re looking at — for a typical household in Hanson … maybe $60 or $70 a year, so it’s not massive, for sure. But it is a little bit [more of a savings] and particularly with the stability.”
Selectman Jim Hickey agreed.
“It’s not about saving money, although you will, it’s about the energy that we use and using a cleaner energy,” Hickey said.
Hard copies of the plan are available on the program website (hansoncommunitypower.com) at Town Hall and the Hanson Public Library and informational notices will be posted on the town website, cable access channel and updates submitted to this newspaper and social media. Flyers will also be posted on bulletin boards around town.