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First Baptist Church Goes Green

First Baptist Church Chelmsford Opts Up for 100% Green Electricity

Written by Hugh Southall, Edited by Tom Amiro and Kathy Cryan-Hicks

At First Baptist Church in South Chelmsford we take environmental stewardship seriously. Our First Baptist Church Council voted to opt up to the Chelmsford Choice Plus plan (you can opt up too at This allows our church to practice environmental stewardship of the resources our Creator has given us, and we are willing to pay for it. First Baptist Church, Chelmsford, has opted up for all three of its facilities: Sanctuary; Parsonage; and Liberty Hall.

Choice and Choice Plus

Chelmsford, Massachusetts, has a Municipal Aggregation plan called Chelmsford Choice. The town has contracted for a bulk supply of electricity which can be: (a) less expensive and (b) 100% green. All residences and businesses are automatically entered into the plan with the default option that meets the minimum percentage of green electricity required by the state. This is the least expensive option and throughout the history of Chelmsford Choice has been less expensive than the standard National Grid rates

The picture below shows how this works. The electricity supplier is currently Public Power LLC in Dallas, Texas. The Electric Distribution Company is the one we have always had, National Grid. When you are automatically entered into the Chelmsford Choice plan your supply is NOT 100% green renewable electricity. As the picture shows, it is a mix of renewable and non-renewable energy sources. The latter results in the production of green house gases. However, you can “opt up” to the Chelmsford Choice Plus plan and the electricity supplier will buy 100% green electricity for you.

For the Choice Plus plan, currently the cost is 10.089 cents/KWh while the cost in the default Choice plan is 9.403 cents/KWh, where KWh is Kilowatt hours of electricity. This is an increase of 7% for the supply side of the bill, which is only about half of the total. And it is still less than the average of 12 cents that National Grid has been charging non-aggregation consumers for the last 6 years. For the average residential usage that comes down to just $4.12 a month. It’s important to note that you have to actually choose to opt up to 100% clean electricity.

Information on both the standard plan (Chelmsford Choice plan) and the 100% green electricity plan (Chelmsford Choice Plus plan) can be found at the URL: You can also easily “opt up” by pushing a button on the page. You just need to know your National Grid account number.

If you need a little more guidance, click here to get a How-To manual showing you how to do it.

I spent a considerable amount of time trying to get an understanding of what a Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) is so I talked with my cousin who worked for 6 years with the electricity supplier Public Power LLC in Dallas and with Colonial Power Group and Peregrine Energy both here in MA. RECs are fairly subtle things, but I’m more comfortable with them now. That was a useful conversation.

If you want to know more details about the actual composition of the electricity supplied when you opt up to 100% Green, read on.

In the Chelmsford Choice Plus energy plan, 27.7056% of the electricity supplied is generated by renewable and alternative energy sources to meet 2020 Massachusetts RPS (Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard) requirements and includes a required 16% from newer renewable energy projects in New England, i.e., MA Class I RECs (Renewable Energy Certificates, see below). 20% is from newer renewable energy projects in New England (MA Class I RECs), added voluntarily by Chelmsford. 52.2944% is from wind projects outside of New England (National Wind RECs), added voluntarily by Chelmsford.

A REC (Renewable Energy Certificate) is the documented proof of the generation of 1 MWh (1 megawatt hour, where 1 MWh = 1000 KWh) of electrical energy by a qualified source of renewable energy (like a wind turbine) which emits no green house gas. Once you buy the REC it is retired and no one else can claim it. When we buy RECs we are expressing an appetite for renewable energy. Since demand drives supply, the more of us who opt up, choosing green electricity, the more pressure is put on the electric utilities to transition from fossil fuel based generation to emission free generation.