Massachusetts May Be Leading the Way for Renewable Energy Standards
Renewable Energy Requirements
In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the dependency on traditional fossil fuel energy sources, regulators in Massachusetts have set forth new renewable electricity purchasing requirements for all the state’s public utilities. Massachusetts’ Department of Public Utilities (DPU) now requires each public utility to bid on long-term green energy contracts no less than two times by the end of 2016.
Aside from providing Massachusetts citizens cleaner energy, the requirements are expected to push clean energy developers to move more quickly on starting projects, since a federal tax credit for such projects –set to expire soon– requires that they be implemented by the end of 2013.
Massachusetts was one of the first states in the nation to implement a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires a certain percentage of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy. The new requirements are in addition to the RPS and Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (APS; which provides requirements and incentives for alternative electricity technologies), which was implemented several years ago.
Another method that Massachusetts is using to boost the state’s renewable portfolio is through its Solarize Massachusetts program, which focuses on bringing solar electricity systems to homes and businesses in the state. Running the program is the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Green Communities Division of Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, which partners with towns and cities in the state in order to boost the implementation of small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects.
By organizing a coordinated education, marketing, and outreach effort, the entities are able to provide cities and towns cheaper small solar energy systems by means of a group purchasing model. As more residents and businesses purchase the systems, more savings is created for all in each community.
Last year, 17 cities and towns (749 residents and businesses) signed contracts to participate in the program, saving 20% on solar systems. The contracts were the equivalent of 4.8 megawatts of clean, renewable energy, or enough to power over 700 average homes annually. The state’s incentive programs for renewable energy, such as Solarize Massachusetts, resulted in a 28 percent drop in residential solar electricity prices in 2012 alone, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
The 2013 Solarize Massachusetts program is open for sign-ups from May until the end of September. Already, the state has met 220 megawatts of installed solar electricity, enough to power 33,000 homes a year. It is likely that the state will reach its goal of 250 megawatts well before the 2017 goal date.