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TOWNSEND — The town is close to finding a different electricity provider to replace Unitil.

Tuesday night, selectmen discussed plans to buy electricity for municipal buildings from a third-party provider, using Unitil’s poles and lines.

“This came out of the ice-storm debacle,” Selectman David Chenelle said.

Town Administrator Greg Barnes is seeking bids from companies willing to sell electricity to the town using Unitil’s infrastructure.

“I’m waiting for one more company to bring back a bid,” Barnes said.

Massachusetts law allows school districts, municipalities and individuals to seek competitive prices for energy while using the infrastructure currently in place, Chenelle said. That means Townsend can buy electricity from any company as long as it is transmitted over Unitil’s lines.

Townsend will still pay a transmission fee to Unitil, but the rates for the electricity will be much lower than Unitil offers, Barnes said.

“We don’t know for sure, but likely we will save some money,” Barnes said.

Unitil sells electricity to Townsend for about 11 cents per kilowatt hour. The bids coming in so far are around 9 cents per kilowatt hour, Barnes said.

He said that will help the town lower and control costs.

Unitil’s rates for electricity can vary month to month, Barnes said, making it difficult to budget for utilities.

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