With recent news stories of Texas and severe weather conditions throughout the country, many of us are thinking about our own energy security.
John Tzimorangas, President of Energy New England (ENE) who represents 30 of the 81 Municipal LIght and Power (MLP) communities knows these issues are at the forefront of of the (MLP) communities. Many ratepayers do not know if they are serviced by an MLP utility or an Investment Owned Utility (IOU), a private for profit company, such as Eversource or National Grid, nor do they understand the key differences between the world of MLPs and IOUs. There are many important differences. For one, there is a major difference in cost. If you are fortunate enough to live in an MLP service territory you pay up to 25% to 30% less on your utility bill. In addition to lower bills, MLPs are quicker to respond to outages and restoration of service. “They are smaller, extremely familiar with their system and dedicated to provide superior service, said Mr. Tzimorangas in a recent interview.
John has experience with both structures, having joined ENE ten years ago after working for a MLP, and before that, working for an IOU. He will be the first to tell you that delivering energy is become more complicated with the addition of distributive resources such as solar and wind. The reason they are complicated is that wind and solar are intermittent resources, so you need to have some form of backup electric supply service. Balancing the energy supply portfolios for their members is a major goal for ENE this year. Reliability and resiliency are critical to customer. “When they flick the switch, they expect the lights to come on,” said Mr. Tzimorangas. Part of the balancing involves obtaining the right mix of green energy. ENE understands that climate change is real, and that customers want excellent service at the lowest price. ENE has been successful in finding green energy projects that provide reliability at market rates. Recently, the company added 100 MW of existing hydro, a portion of this hydroelectricity is provided by facilities with large storage ponds that can quickly respond during periods of peak electric demand. Besides the hydro, ENE has also added 90 MW of wind and 100 MW of solar since 2009.
Why do the MLPs need ENE? ENE was started in 1998 by four MLPS in order to address the ever-growing complications associated with managing an energy supply system within an MLP community. Prior to the deregulation of the electric sector in 1990, delivering power was very straight forward. Systems were vertically integrated. There were no market rules or distributive sources of generation with the constant need to provide reliability while greening the energy sector. Now there are regional transmission operators who run the power sector. They have complicated rules and compliance requirements on both the state and federal levels. With the recent support of the new climate bill in Massachusetts, the MLPs are now required to decarbonize their own system by 50% in 2030 and 100% by 2050. They can meet these goals through their market operations energy portfolios with an emphasis on sustainability. In addition, even though the MLPs are not part of MassSave, ENE provides similar programs such as the administration of 175 energy audits and 50,000 energy rebates. “We do not outsource our energy audits; we provide personalized service to the MLP ratepayers that provide ways for MLP ratepayers to reduce their energy usage and save money at the same time.” Said, Justin Connell of ENE, its sustainability coordinator.
Can My Community Become an MLP? Unfortunately, the 81 MLPs that exists will be that way for a long time. If a community wanted to become an MLP, it would be impossible since the city or town would have to purchase at market rates all of the assets of the IOU- a nearly impossible purchase for any community. If you live in an MLP, you should embrace how special it is. MLPs are also working to improve their services as well. One key area is communications. Vincent Ragucci of ENE market strategies is working with their members to enhance communications through text outages to bill paying. Ratepayers in an MLP community appreciate all the work of their community MLP and the benefits of being an ENE member. It could be why MLP customer ratings, such as JD Powers, receive very high marks. As Mr. Tzimorangas commented, “you can walk into any local MLP and talk to the general manager. I would like you to try that with you IOU”. So, please stop in to your local MLP office and learn more about how to save energy, money, and the planet. Please go to _______ in order to learn more about your MLP.