“The Department’s delays in acting on municipal aggregation plans are especially alarming given DPU’s role in approving hikes in energy distribution rates proposed by utility companies for this winter”

“Unaffordable energy costs, especially during the winter months, jeopardize public health and safety to a severity that we cannot ignore”

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington (Feburary 17, 2023) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU)’s new Acting Chair Cecile M. Fraser, urging the department to conduct a timely review and approve pending municipal aggregation plans that over 30 communities are waiting for – in some cases, for more than two years.

“These systemic delays in the approval process are extremely concerning and don’t align with the DPU’s stated mission to provide affordable energy,” said Senator Warren. “It is essential that the department use every available tool to reduce electricity cost increases for Massachusetts families without delay.”

The DPU is charged with reviewing and approving municipal aggregation plans that allow towns and cities to choose their own supplier and buy electricity in bulk, potentially leading to lower rates and can provide an electricity supply not reliant on fossil fuels. The department, under the Baker Administration however, delayed municipal aggregation approvals, in some cases for up to almost three years, while approving National Grid’s electricity rate hikes within days of receiving the request. 

“While DPU approved National Grid’s rate increase proposal in less than five days, the Department has taken over two years to approve requests that could ‘slash residents’ electricity bills,” wrote the lawmakers. “It is unclear why DPU has delayed approving these plans, especially when ‘the delays are harming Massachusetts communities.’” 

The lawmakers are urging DPU to approve municipal aggregation plans in a timely manner, requesting that DPU revisit its decision to approve utilities’ electricity price increases  given unexpected drops in natural gas prices, and requesting that DPU provide information regarding its review procedures no later than February 28, 2023.

“Instead of empowering communities with the ability to negotiate prices and create more energy supply options, DPU dragged its feet on issuing decisions, neglecting its mission to provide affordable energy,” concluded the lawmakers.