Keeping renewable electricity local
Greenfield, Mass.

In January 2015, Greenfield, Mass., began providing its utility customer residents with 100 percent green electricity as part of its opt-in Greenfield Light and Power Program. By that November, the city was obtaining a portion of that electricity from renewable electricity generated locally and in nearby communities.

Greenfield accomplished this through municipal aggregation, which lets a municipality organize its electricity supply on behalf of its residents though group purchasing. Through the Greenfield Light and Power Program, the city pioneered municipal aggregation of local, renewably-generated electricity — all without incurring any additional costs — in Massachusetts.

“We want to provide green electricity and we want to get it as local as possible… we basically enhanced municipal aggregation to be this tool to pursue a sustainability agenda that we have in town,” Greenfield Director of Energy and Sustainability Carole Collins says.

Massachusetts requires utilities and electricity suppliers to annually purchase a set percentage of renewable energy certificates (RECs), which shows that an eligible in-state energy producer is generating a given amount of renewable energy. For solar producers, that amount is 1 megawatt hour. Greenfield had created the Greenfield Solar Challenge in 2014, which was a partnership with a local cell installer that brought bulk purchasing of solar cells to its residents, while lowering costs. This ultimately generated 600 solar RECs in Greenfield, which come from residential and business sources.

Greenfield then worked with a partnership of two companies to develop a green-focused aggregation plan and to negotiate the purchase of RECs from renewable energy producers in Greenfield and nearby communities. So far, the Greenfield Light and Power Program has acquired 1,385 solar RECs from local and nearby sources. Four Massachusetts farms supply some of the city’s RECs, and none come from farther away than Maine.  In addition to the Greenfield Light and Power Program not incurring any additional costs, opted-in residential and small commercial customers will pay at least 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour less than what they paid when the program launched.

“You have to pay your utility bill,” Collins says. “So to take something you have to pay anyway and make it into something that then can actually make the planet better and make your community better is pretty cool. And especially when it doesn’t add any cost and potentially saves you money.”


To get connected and stay up-to-date with similar content from American City & County:
Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
Watch us on YouTube