September 28, 2022 — Report

In 1997, Massachusetts passed the Electric Restructuring Act and deregulated its electric utility companies. Prior to that change in the law, electric utilities (local distribution companies or LDCs) owned the power plants that generate electricity and the local utility poles and lines seen on virtually every street that connect homes and businesses to the electricity customers need. The utility companies also sent the bill, handled customer calls, and maintained the local distribution poles and lines. After the 1997 law was enacted, the electric industry was restructured. The electric utilities were required to sell off their power plants and thus became just distribution companies. They still deliver electricity to customers over local poles and lines, send out bills, and make repairs. But customers now can get the actual electricity they need in one of two ways. First, they can rely on the LDC to buy electricity on behalf of those who do not want to shop elsewhere for their electricity. Second, they can choose a so-called competitive energy supply company (CES company) that sells electricity, which would still be delivered by the LDC. For customers who buy their electricity from a CES company, the LDC acts somewhat like UPS or FedEx does when delivering packages. The LDCs deliver electricity that the consumer has bought elsewhere.