20 Years and a Renewed Sense of Purpose

By Cynthia A. Arcate 11 June, 2018

Twenty years ago, PowerOptions launched its mission to give Massachusetts nonprofits the opportunity to purchase their electricity and natural gas as part of what is now the largest energy-buying group in the region. Then as now, the contract offered terms that are the best in the industry at no added cost to the customer. In fact, many nonprofits saw substantial savings.

Robert Ciolek, then-Executive Director of the Massachusetts Health and Educational Facilities Authority (HEFA), saw an opportunity to provide added value to the nonprofits HEFA served and jumped on it. He told me years later that he knew nothing about energy; he just thought it made sense given the direction of retail competition in the energy markets. He couldn’t have been more prescient.

Today, PowerOptions is a standalone nonprofit itself. Our mission is to help other nonprofits and public entities save money on energy so they can plow those savings into the pursuit of their own missions. We have more than 400 members representing about $200 million in annual commodity purchasing power. In energy terms, that’s about 200 MWs of demand, about 1 billion kWhs and 11 million dekatherms of gas, or about two times the usage of the City of Worcester.

We also have led a solar program under which 60 of our members have been able to benefit from the Massachusetts solar incentives, saving $120 million over 20 years through 70 MWs of solar generation.

The numbers are impressive. But what’s more impressive is what our members do.

To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we gave 20 of our members $10,000 checks each to directly support their mission. We are also giving away 20 electric vehicle chargers.

As we have reviewed the more than 110 applications for this endeavor, we have been humbled by the breadth of the work our members are doing and the importance of their efforts. They are truly changing lives. And choosing just 20 was difficult.

We chose members for whom $10,000 was significant and enabled them to really do something powerful. The awardees are helping the mentally challenged, resettling Puerto Rican refugees, providing comfortable and safe housing for seniors, nursing care, protecting animals and providing cultural enrichment in their communities.

As we travel to the locations for the ceremonial check presentations across Massachusetts and Connecticut, we are awed by the commitment and importance of the work our members do. It has given us a renewed sense of purpose. Their work is our reward. So, instead of celebrating us for our 20 years of work, we celebrate them.

Thank you, PowerOptions members, for all you do, and know that we will keep working hard and smart to provide you the best support we can in what we do.

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