At MA State House ‘Energy Market Breakfast,’ REAL & Two Former State Utility Commissioners Present Overview of Energy Market, Share How Consumers Can Shop & Save

November 15, 2023

Amid rising winter electric rates, REAL and two former state utility commissioners provided a briefing to legislators and staff on the state of the Massachusetts energy market, options for customers seeking cost-savings and resources for their constituents. 

Presentation summary: 

Paul Hibbard – Former Chairman of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities

  • The benefits of a functioning competitive market for retail electricity go well beyond price; it allows consumers to exercise choice, drives lower long-run costs through the pressure of competition, fosters innovation, and allows for unique product offerings tailored to consumer interest.
  • Analyses of retail markets to date have not included a review of the comprehensive benefits and made “apples to oranges” comparisons between default service and the variety of retail product offerings 
  • While it has been proven that retail energy markets drive lower long-run costs through the pressure of competition, evaluations of the benefits or success of these markets cannot rely solely on price and cost savings.
  • Bad experiences in some states with the actions and predatory practices of some retail suppliers can be effectively ironed out with straightforward changes to the regulatory construct.
  • A comprehensive review demonstrates retail energy choice has fostered innovation, accelerated the reduction of carbon emissions, increased consumer engagement and control of their energy usage and provided consumers with a variety of products tailored to their unique energy needs and preferences. 

“States, utilities, and retail suppliers need to double down on efforts to increase consumer education and establish familiarity with retail choice. Competition thrives with active, growing and informed consumer demand.”

Paul Hibbard

John Hanger – Former Commissioner of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission

  • Patronizing customers on shopping has pacified customers on shopping. We have to empower and activate the demand side of the residential customer market to successfully decarbonize. 
  • The five states with the highest carbon emissions intensity use government power to protect monopoly utilities and prohibit competition.
  • Virtual Power Plants have emerged as a key tool for decarbonization efforts. Competitive retail markets provide a catalyst for their success where energy providers are incentivized to explore and invest in various sources of power generation like solar, storage, and other distributed energy resources, giving customers more options to support clean energy development. 

“Choice in competitive markets is the single most important consumer protection you can have.”

John Hanger
Former PUC Commissioner John Hanger discusses competition and decarbonization efforts at the Massachusetts State House.

Abby Foster, Vice President of Policy & Advocacy with the Retail Energy Advancement League

  • In addition to cost-savings, retail energy suppliers offer value-added products such as fixed-rate plans, flat monthly bills, EV charging incentives, home energy products and more. 
  • Customers need to know they have options and how to access and use the state-managed shopping website to compare products and plans.
  • Educating customers about changes in rates, contract terms, their rights and how to identify scams creates an informed customer population, resulting in a protected consumer population.

REAL thanks Representative Tackey Chan for creating the opportunity to provide this briefing and for his leadership championing reforms to modernize Massachusetts’ retail energy market and improve consumer protections through proposed legislation (H. 3155). On Tuesday, Rep. Chan discussed the intricacies of the energy market, how retail choice has evolved over the past few decades, and why reform, rather than market closure, offers the best path forward for Massachusetts. 

Rep. Tackey Chan addresses the room in the Massachusetts State House.


11/14 Energy Market Briefing Slide deck 

REAL: Consumer Education Examples from other States 

REAL: Monthly Massachusetts Energy Market Summary

REAL: Shopping Guide on How to Use

Analysis Group: At the Crossroads: Improving Customer Choice for Products in the U.S. Electricity Sector

DPU: EnergySwitchMA shopping FAQ

DPU: Current and Posted Future Utility Rates

DPU: Energy Assistance Programs

Customers: Quotes from Mass. customers that shop and their experiences

Customers: Mass. customers discuss the variety of retail plans 

Customers: Mass. customers discuss the importance of renewable retail plans

REAL Choice