Massachusetts deregulated its electricity markets in 1998. Each of the investor owned electric utilities (Nstar, National Grid, Fitchburg Gas & Electric/Unitil and Western Massachusetts Electric) now offer customers the chance to save money by shopping for the supply portion of their electric bill.
The utilities sold off their power plants, and now only own the transmission and distribution wires, while also providing "backstop" power to customers who do not shop for electricity. With the move to competition, Massachusetts utilities have separated their service into two parts:
- Regulated distribution of power, which is still only provided by the utility, and
- Supply of the electric commodity, which is open to competition.
Customers can choose to receive their electric supply from their utility, or an alternate energy provider.
In Massachusetts, customers who do not choose an alternate energy provider receive "basic" supply service from the utility. Rates for basic service are set via competitive bidding, and are adjusted frequently, based on a customer's class.
Typically, basic service prices for large and medium business customers change monthly. The size cutoff for customers in this class varies by your utility.
Residential and small business customers are typically served on basic service prices that are fixed for six months.
Customers who choose an alternate energy provider still have their power delivered to them by their local utility, and contact their utility for all outage reporting. Customers can choose to receive either a single bill from their utility for their delivery service and energy supply service, or can receive two bills, one from each company.
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