Lexington Approves Community Choice and Divestment!

Lexington’s Town Meeting approved the Community Electrical Aggregation article and the Divestment from Fossil Fuels article taking two more important steps toward sustainability and addressing climate change!

Community Choice Article: 

The largest source of Lexington’s emissions comes from our electricity consumption. How can the Town of Lexington help local residents and small businesses switch to cleaner and cheaper electricity?

The Board of Selectmen is planning to submit a warrant article asking Town Meeting to authorize the Town to enter into a Community Choice program that would consolidate residential and commercial retail electricity demand in order to seek proposals for cheaper and cleaner sources of power on behalf of our residents and businesses.

We are lucky to be living in Massachusetts, one of only 5 states in the country that allows local residents and businesses to collectively choose a competitive supplier by pooling their buying power with the goal of choosing a cleaner and cheaper supplier for our electricity.

All electricity consumers in Massachusetts have the option to select a competitive retail electricity supplier. But only 10% of Lexington’s residential customers have switched to competitive suppliers. It is not hard to understand why so few have taken advantage of this opportunity. Picking a vendor can be complicated and time consuming, and many residents are concerned they might not have enough information to make a good choice.

In contrast, 86% of the electricity consumed by Lexington’s commercial customers comes from competitive electricity suppliers. Large commercial customers have proven that they can effectively obtain lower rates by switching to competitive suppliers. The Town of Lexington has also had great success with our competitive supplier, purchasing electricity for 22% less than the NSTAR Basic Service rate last year. With the recent rate hikes, the Town is looking even smarter. Our long-term supply agreement allows the Town to buy electricity at half the rate of NSTAR’s Basic Service rate and get cleaner energy than NSTAR’s Basic Service!

If approved, the Town’s electricity broker would develop an aggregation plan that would be reviewed and approved by the Board of Selectmen, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources and the Department of Public Utilities. Once the plan is approved, the broker would solicit bids for cleaner and cheaper power, all at the broker’s own cost and risk.

Customers would continue to receive one bill from NSTAR and NSTAR would continue to provide electricity delivery, emergency services and customer support. Individual residents and businesses would retain the right to opt-out with no penalty and choose any other competitive supplier or the default Basic Service energy supply provided by NSTAR. Many local governments are achieving a powerful range of objectives for their residents and businesses using Community Choice programs:

• Competitive, often significantly lower, electricity rates

• Transition to a cleaner, more efficient energy supply

• Consumer choice, consumer protection, & local control If that sounds good to you, ask your Town Meeting members to approve the Community Choice warrant article.

Draft Warrant Article: To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Board of Selectmen to enter into a Community Choice Aggregation Program and contract for electric supply for Lexington residents and businesses as per MGL 164, Section 134, or act in any other manner in relation thereto.

Comment: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by enacting Chapter 164 of the Acts of 1997, has established a competitive electricity marketplace. The residents and businesses of Lexington have substantial economic, environmental, and social interests at stake and are interested in reducing their electricity emissions and rates. If a Community Choice Aggregation program is implemented in Lexington, individual residents and businesses would retain the right to opt-out with no penalty and choose any other competitive supplier or the utility’s default Basic Service energy supply. NSTAR

Divestment Article

Fossil fuel companies have five times more carbon in their underground reserves of coal, oil and natural gas than can be burned to stay below the internationally agreed upon 2 degrees “safe limit” to curb the worst impact of global warming.  Yet, it is in their business plan to burn it, and they spend 1.6 billion dollars every day exploring for even more. Instead of leading the transition to clean energy, fossil fuel companies have used their tremendous financial resources on lobbying to block political action on climate change and on misinformation campaigns to cast doubt on the science and confuse the public.
Yet some of our Lexington Town funds and state retirement funds are invested in these fossil fuel companies.  Our ownership of these investments carries with it our responsibility for the actions of these fossil fuel companies.  According to Bill McKibben, Lexington-raised author and environmentalist, “If it’s wrong to wreck the planet, it’s wrong to profit from this wreckage.”  In addition fossil fuel investments have become “risky business.”  A resolution on the upcoming town warrant proposes that Lexington get out of fossil fuel investments in its Retirement and Public Trust funds and that town authorities urge the state retirement fund managers to do the same.

More information on Community Choice Article continued: 

 

 

More information on Divestment Article continued: 

Summary: Because of the urgency of the climate crisis, which is caused primarily by human use of fossil fuels, this resolution asks the Town’s Retirement Board and Trustees of Public Trusts to cease any new investments in fossil fuel companies and to eliminate direct holdings in these companies within five years. For any Town investments in commingled funds that are found to include fossil fuel companies, the Retirement Board and Trustees of Public Trusts are urged to contact their fund managers and request that the fossil fuel companies be removed from such funds within five years. In addition, the Selectmen are urged to ask the managers of the state Pension Reserve Investment Trust Fund to divest from holdings in fossil fuel companies. Recently Town Meeting passed a resolution to: “consider climate change in all appropriate decisions and planning.” Evaluating our investments for climate impact is an excellent example of such a decision. This is a non-binding resolution.