The first thing most people do when they walk into a room is to turn the lights on. But most people do not think of how that power got there and where it came from. In reality, electricity is a complex system responsible for the generation, transmission and distribution of electrons. So how do we know if the electricity we’re using came from renewable energy or not? The answer: Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). But in order to understand how RECs work and how they do their part to clean our grid, we must first understand how the grid brings electricity to our homes and businesses, and how it operates as a whole.
As you may have heard by now, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are 2 out of 28 states that have a state mandate requiring retail electricity suppliers to provide a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable energy sources. And even though the RPS and RES are different as their names suggest, they have a common goal: to increase the amount of renewable energy in the region and to lower greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector. They do so by requiring electric utilities and competitive power suppliers to include increasing amounts of renewable energy in their supply mixes each year. For purely political reasons, municipally-owned utilities are exempt.
This is an update from previous blogs on the subjects covered here.
Have you recently received salespeople at your door or offers in the mail from competitive electricity suppliers? They lay the pitch on thick with too-good-to be true rates and feel-good energy mixes. It may seem hard to poke holes in the pitch, but under the smiling surface, many of these suppliers use smoke and mirror marketing to get their foot in the door and your signature on a contract.
You want to support the generation of electricity from renewable sources, but how do you know if a green power program will use your dollars to speed our transition to clean energy? How would you know whether your purchase of green power is actually contributing to shifting the mix of electricity that powers our electric grid away from fossil fuels?
These are valid questions that we, as a non-profit energy organization working in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and offering a program that allows you to make the switch to renewable energy, get asked every day. So here it is: Green Power Bootcamp, in a blog.
Solar projects have been popping up all over Rhode Island. This has been due to the enhancement of the Renewable Energy Standard and the Renewable Energy Growth program, as well as a recent call from Governor Gina Raimondo to have 1,000 Megawatts of renewable energy within the state by the end of 2020. We are excited about the possibilities these policy measures create for new, properly-sited projects.
As a non-profit focused on both climate change and consumers, we have noticed that the complexity of solar contracts and cost of solar panels prohibit some people from moving forward with solar installation.
For years we have helped consumers to install solar by interpreting state programs, teaming up with state and municipal programs like Massachusetts Solar Connect, and even buying solar RECs from projects built before 2010. Now we've vetted an all-in-one solution that we're excited to share with our members and friends: EnergySage. Together, we're helping more and more people install solar.
Earlier this month, Boston's Mayor Walsh called for cities around the country to explore a group purchase of renewable energy, apparently for municipal buildings and streetlights. The hope is that a lot of purchasing power could support the construction of large-scale and low-cost clean energy. According to news accounts, the cities might jointly buy from one or more facilities that could be located anywhere in the U.S. Boston City Hall plans to finalize a list of partnering cities and issue a request for information to renewable energy developers late in the summer.
For over a hundred years, the rap on electricity was that you could not store as usefully as you could store oil, gas, coal, and wood. That has made matching power supply with demand a challenge. More recently, we have been told by New England utilities and their ally, the so-called “Independent Operator of New England” (ISO-NE) that increasing amounts of wind and solar, intermittent resources, will make the challenge even harder.
Massachusetts has selected Vineyard Wind to develop an 800-megawatt wind farm — about 100 turbines — in federal waters about 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. The project is expected to be completed in 2021. Not to be outdone, Rhode Island has chosen Deepwater Wind for a 400-megawatt project to be located south of Little Compton and is expected to be operating in 2023. The two states worked together on the procurement process, but chose different developers.
Tags: renewable energy
If you’ve looked at our local resources map recently you’ve noticed that Mass Energy/People’s Power & Light is now supporting more renewable energy sources than ever before. This has been made possible thanks to the contribution of our members who made the switch to green electricity, and to the commitment of seven (7) communities that wanted their electricity to come from local, clean energy resources and made it happen through a process called Green Municipal Aggregation.