Acting on the recommendations of the Department of Energy Resources and Attorney General, on December 16th, the Department of Public Utilities ordered that NSTAR terminate its NSTAR Green program in favor of other voluntary green power offerings, such as Mass Energy’s New England Wind and New England GreenStart products. By January 15, NSTAR must provide written notice to all NSTAR Green customers that the program will terminate effective July 1, 2015 and customers will be enrolled in traditional basic service unless they choose an alternate competitive supplier. Such termination notices must be designed to inform current green power customers about the pending termination of the program and about opportunities to access renewable energy products, like Mass Energy’s, through the competitive market. NSTAR Electric also must make such materials available on the NSTAR website.
In making its ruling, the Department of Public Utilities recognized that the wind power that NSTAR has under contract is still useful to NSTAR customers. The energy will be utilized by NSTAR customers on basic service and the renewable energy certificates will be used to comply with the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.
For several years, NSTAR has offered NSTAR Green to its customers. The energy for the program came from wind projects in New York and Maine. NSTAR asserted that its product was needed to meet the needs of its customers. Other commenters, such as Mass Energy, the Department of Energy Resources, and the Attorney General, stated that consumers who want to voluntarily support renewable energy have other viable options when selecting green power programs. Mass Energy pointed to its own products, both of which are primarily based upon sources in Massachusetts, both of which cost less per kilowatt hour than NSTAR's green power program, and both of which are tax-deductible for taxpayers who itemize charitable donations on their federal return (NSTAR Green is not tax-deductible).
New England Wind is comprised of 100% wind power from Massachusetts turbines. New England GreenStart is a blend of wind, cow power, solar, and hydro certified by the Low-Impact Hydro Institute. In New England GreenStart, the wind, cow power, and solar are from Massachusetts projects and the hydro is from a Low Impact Hydropower Institute certified facility in Maine. A map of the resources used to meet the electricity needs of Mass Energy’s members is located here.
Mass Energy has been a supplier in the voluntary market for renewable energy for twelve years, starting with power from Hull’s first wind turbine located on Pemberton Point near Hull High School. Today it provides green power to about 7,500 consumers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. We believe strongly that buying green power is one of the simplest and most effective ways a consumer can choose to reduce his or her carbon footprint. By choosing in-state resources, consumers are also helping to develop the state’s economy by keeping energy dollars here in Massachusetts.
The important thing to understand about “greening the grid” is that when a consumer enrolls in one of Mass Energy’s retail products, Mass Energy is obligated to buy more renewable energy from generators. Becoming economically viable, those generators are therefore able to displace fossil fuels (none of which are produced in Massachusetts) that contribute to global warming. So Mass Energy’s programmatic mission is to increase voluntary consumer demand for renewable energy. When Mass Energy buys renewable energy from a generator, it is “playing keep-away” from electricity suppliers that need green power for the purpose of complying with state law. Because the amount of green power suppliers need to buy according to the law increases by 1% each year, suppliers need to work harder and harder to procure more unclaimed renewable energy each year, resulting in more projects being built. The more voluntary green power buyers, the more renewable energy we can keep from suppliers in need of compliance green power, the more renewable energy gets built. In one respect, consumers who buy New England GreenStart and New England Wind are decades ahead of their neighbors!
Whether you are currently affected by the NSTAR Green termination or not, now is a great time to choose renewable energy from a nonprofit organization dedicated to making energy affordable and environmentally sustainable. Please join us today.