Clean Energy Collaboration

The challenges to regional installation of clean energy technologies are the high upfront costs associated with the purchase and installation of clean energy technologies, and the lack of access to federal and state tax credits for clean energy production for public agencies. Creative financing and procurement models such as Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) allow private energy companies to qualify for the tax credits, and the savings from those incentives are passed down to the public entities.

This regional approach to clean energy development can reduce transaction costs and aggregate demand so that projects can be installed at lower average cost per megawatt. The result is that public entities accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in their region and provide a direct cost savings to the property owners.

Statutory Requirements

The Massachusetts Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a statutory obligation that energy suppliers obtain a percentage of electricity supplied to retail consumers from renewable energy sources. As part of the Green Communities Act of 2008, the RPS was broken into RPS Class I and RPS Class II.

In January 2010 new regulations were filed so that a specified and growing portion of the RPS Class I renewable energy requirement comes from solar photovoltaic (PV) energy. This carve-out supports distributed solar PV energy facilities, including residential, commercial, public and non-profit projects, and is designed to help the Commonwealth achieve the installation of 400 MW of solar PV across the state.

For more information, refer to the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard section on the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs website.

Types of Agreements

Power purchase agreements are contracts between two parties, one that generates electricity for the purpose of sale and one that is looking to purchase electricity. There are various forms of power purchase agreements that are differentiated by the source of energy harnessed (solar, wind, etc.)

Financing

Refer to the Renewable Energy Funding and Incentives section of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs website.

Resources – Website Links

Clean Energy Technical Support and Funding – General

Clean Energy Technical Support and Funding – Massachusetts

  • Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) offers grants for feasibility and/or design and construction of solar panels, wind turbines, biomass  systems, hydroelectric systems, and other clean energy systems
  • Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs – Renewable Energy Funding and Incentives
  • Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) helps communities address energy costs and energy management through its MunEnergy Program
  • Mass Save is an initiative sponsored by Massachusetts’ gas and electric utilities and energy efficiency service providers at www.masssave.com

Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) resources available to local communities looking for ways to become energy efficient:

  • Green Communities Designation and Grant Program assists communities toward qualification as a Green Community and provide funding to qualified  municipalities for energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives
  • Energy Management Services (EMS), i.e. performance contracting
  • Transportation Petroleum Use Reductions: Massachusetts CleanCities Coalition
  • Energy Use Data: MassEnergyInsight provides data to cities, towns, and other local and regional governmental entities such as school districts, drinking water districts and regional wastewater treatment plants for free. Anyone seeking access to energy use data in MassEnergyInsight is required to obtain authorization via a user authorization letter. Click here for Program authorization guidelines.
Examples of Clean Energy Collaboration

The Berkshire Wind Cooperative – Fourteen (14) Muncipalities is a non-profit entity consisting of fourteen Massachusetts municipal utilities and their joint action agency, the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company. They own and operate the Berkshire Wind Power Project, a 15MW, ten-turbine wind farm in Hancock, Massachusetts. Although municipal utilities are not subject to state RPS requirements, support from their customers has encouraged the integration of renewable energy into their portfolios.

MassCEC launched Solarize Massachusetts in the towns of Harvard, Hatfield, Scituate and Winchester to encourage residents and businesses to join forces to go solar as a community. By joining together, residents can realize cost savings through bulk purchasing. More than 100 property owners in the four communities have installed solar PV as of 2011.

Morris County, New Jersey is currently funding a 3.2 MW solar project called the “Morris Model” with a combination of financing from utility company Tioga Energy and up to $30 million in county-guaranteed bonds. Tioga Energy qualifies for the federal solar tax incentives, which are not available to public entities. Savings from those incentives are passed down to participants through a discounted electricity rate over the next 15 years. When completed, the project will have installed more than 14,000 solar panels in 19 local school and county facilities, resulting in energy savings of more than $3.8 million, and creating a carbon offset equivalent to removing more than 200 passenger vehicles from the road each year. For more information on this project, contact the Morris County Improvement Authority at (973) 285-6020.