Gas and power prices in Massachusetts spiked last winter as a result of cold weather and natural gas supply constraints, and utilities have increased their rates to cover these costs. The Barnstable Patriot reported that rates increased by 37 percent for National Grid customers, effective November 1, and 29 percent for NSTAR customers, effective January 1. This has led many consumers to explore retail energy.
MassDevelopment launched the Massachusetts Manufacturing Energy Collaborative (MassMEC) in April to aggregate energy purchases. The group, which covers both power and gas purchases, signed up more than 100 members in its first six months from the commercial, industrial, and municipal sectors. Early Bird Power manages the procurement process for this initiative. MassMEC also offers energy efficiency consultation.
Massachusetts is also one of a handful of states that allows municipal aggregation. Through this process, municipalities can sign bulk energy purchase agreements on behalf of their residents and businesses. Several municipalities have taken this route, beginning with the formation of the Cape Light Compact in 2004. Massachusetts Municipal Association reported in October that 13 additional municipalities were considering this type of arrangement.