ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — Two years ago, five Essex County municipalities — Glen Ridge, Maplewood, Montclair, South Orange and Verona — formed the Sustainable Essex Alliance to promote high-quality green energy and reduce the cost of electricity for residents. In March 2019, the SEA awarded a 17-month cooperative energy contract to Direct Energy Services to supply cheaper and greener electricity to thousands of residential customers in the five towns. According to an Oct. 1 press release, leveraging the purchasing power of these communities was a success. The SEA’s energy consultant, Gabel Associates, estimated that, in the first 12 months of the program, the aggregate savings for the participating residents in the five towns was nearly $1.9 million: Glen Ridge saved $192,000; Maplewood saved $380,000; Montclair saved $684,000; South Orange saved $348,000; and Verona saved $253,000. In addition, Direct Energy supplied a power product with double the amount of renewable energy content required of PSE&G and it was composed of Class 1 Renewable Energy Certificates.
The current contract with Direct Energy ends in December 2020, so SEA began the process of soliciting new bids for Round 2 of the cooperative energy program. SEA also added Glen Rock and Livingston to its membership, bringing the total Round 2 towns to seven and increasing the number of households by about 10,000.
On Sept. 15, SEA received price proposals for the next 12 to 24 months from four energy firms. Disappointingly, the proposals did not meet the SEA pricing criteria relative to the PSE&G rates. SEA’s goals of providing cheaper rates and greener energy than PSE&G could not be met with the proposed prices. Therefore, the SEA has rejected all four bids and will not be entering Round 2 at this time.
Therefore, at the conclusion of the Direct Energy contract in December 2020, customers will once again receive their electric supply from PSE&G. There will be no charge for the switch to PSE&G and the switch will be automatic without any action required by customers. Prior to December, residents will receive a form letter from PSE&G informing them that Direct Energy will no longer be their electric source.
As residents may have previously experienced, they are likely to again receive solicitation phone calls and letters directly from third-party suppliers offering green energy and different electric rates. These solicitations are not associated with the Sustainable Essex Alliance, are not leveraging the purchasing power of your municipality and may not include high-quality renewable energy sources.
Going forward, the SEA will solicit bids in the future when the market becomes more favorable. The SEA is committed to advancing green energy and using its marketing strength to obtain cheaper rates of electricity for the residents in the seven participating municipalities.