It was standing room only on November 27 at our Library program, “Newton Power Choice: Going Green”, moderated by Green Newton Vice President Jim Purdy with City panelists Ann Berwick, sustainability director; Eric Olson, Energy Commission chair; and Halina Brown, Energy Commission vice chair.
Olson began with a call for residents to support an ambitious green energy component in the upcoming municipal aggregation contract that the City will draft over the next 9-12 months. He explained that City officials must grapple with important questions: “Is there public support for only a weak tweak to our bills, or for a more ambitious one? In the absence of national leaders today, is Newton ready to lead?”
Berwick explained that the City’s plan to aggregate electricity purchases, known as Newton Power Choice, will pave the way for the use of a higher proportion of renewable energy than currently mandated by the state.
Aggregation will be offered to Newton residents and some businesses in 2018. The City will select an electricity supplier for the entire community and negotiate the amount of renewable energy purchased, setting a price for the duration of the one- to two-year contract.
The program will provide a City-vetted alternative to other electricity supply offers. Residents and businesses can opt out or leave the program without penalty. There will be a choice as to the percentage of renewables to purchase, including an as yet-to-be-determined default value and a chance to choose 100% green. The City will be offering education through community engagement to gauge the support for an ambitious green default value and encourage residents to opt-up to 100% green.
A Green Newton survey that was completed in the fall of 2017 was presented by Halina Brown. This survey found that 87% of respondents were willing to pay extra to green their electricity; 77% were willing to spend between $8-15 more per month to green their electricity supply to between 50-100% renewables, with the average willing to spend between $8-10. 44% of respondents said they would pay what it would take, based on their average monthly bills, to go up to 100% renewables.
Later, many attendees signed a letter of support from Newton’s environmental and community groups, advocating for an ambitious default of 40% renewable electricity above the state mandate. To view a video of the program, visit NewTV.org. For more information and to stay current on Newton Power Choice, visit www.greennewton.org (type ‘Newton Power Choice’ in the search box).
by Cory Alperstein, Green Newton Board