Somerville CCE supports the growth of new, local renewable energy in our region. The State of Massachusetts has progressive policies that require everyone to use more renewable energy over time, however, the pace of change needs to be faster to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Somerville CCE is leveraging the buying power of our community to bring more clean electricity – at affordable rates – to our residents and businesses. Read on to learn how we’re doing it and the impact we’re having.
A Green Rate for Everyone
All Somerville CCE rates include the minimum types and amounts of renewable energy required by State law. Somerville Local Green and Somerville 100% Local Green have extra renewable energy included, above and beyond the State requirements.
Somerville Local Green
From 2020-22: 10% Extra MA Class I renewable energy
Our standard rate has over 23,000 households participating! This rate is designed to provide more renewable energy while still being cost-competitive with Eversource’s Basic Service. In fact, from July 2017 to the end of 2019, Somerville Local Green was consistently lower than Eversource Basic Service rates, saving participants over $4.75 million, or an average of approximately $130 per participating household. Future savings cannot be guaranteed.1
From 2017-2019, this rate had 5% Extra MA Class I renewable energy.
Somerville 100% Local Green
100% Extra MA Class I renewable energy
This optional rate is our offering for those that want to take an aggressive approach to combating climate change and can afford to pay slightly more per month. For a typical Somerville household (about 400 kWh per month), this would add an estimated $10 compared to Somerville Local Green.
Of course, if you don’t want any extra renewable energy, you can opt down to the Somerville Basic rate.
Buying from New England, Buying Clean
All of the extra renewable energy in the Somerville CCE program qualifies as MA Class I, and it is provided through local non-profit Green Energy Consumers Alliance. Purchasing through Green Energy Consumers Alliance provides two important benefits for our renewable energy:
Only New England Sources
MA Class I renewable energy can come from New England or adjacent parts of Canada and New York. Somerville exclusively sources its extra renewable energy from within New England. We’re helping to keep our energy impact local, supporting New England’s clean energy economy. See below for map of sources.
Only Zero-Emission or Methane-Destroying Sources
Somerville CCE’s extra renewable energy only comes from:
- Zero emission sources, such as solar, wind, low impact hydropower2; and
- Sources that destroy methane, such as anaerobic digestion. Methane has a global warming potential (GWP) 28-36 times greater than CO2 over a 100 year period3. Combustion destroys methane and releases some CO2, resulting in a net reduction in GWP.
Other forms of biomass are explicitly not purchased by Green Energy Consumers Alliance, due to their positive emissions of CO2 during their life cycles.
Green Energy Consumers Alliance, the source for all the City’s extra renewable energy, helps bring new renewable projects to life through long-term contracting. The sources from which Green Energy Consumers buys are shown below as of December 2019.
Having an Impact
Massachusetts has a requirement for every energy supply to include a minimum amount of MA Class I renewable energy, and that amount increases each year. If you don’t meet the requirements, you pay a penalty. This policy provides growing demand for renewable energy, which then incentivizes new renewables to be built. By purchasing a significant quantity of extra MA Class I renewable energy, Somerville is raising demand even further, helping incentivize even more renewable energy to be built. You can read more about MA Class I RECs and their impact in this report from Green Energy Consumers Alliance.
How big is our impact? In 2019, Somerville CCE will purchase about 9,200 MWh of extra MA Class I renewable energy, equal to more than the annual production of two typical wind turbines (1.5 MW each). In 2020, due to the increase of extra renewable energy in our Somerville Local Green rate, we expect to double that annual impact. And other cities and towns are joining with Somerville to amplify the impact even more. In fact, recent estimates suggest that fully 10% of the entire MA Class I REC markets will soon be voluntarily purchased by municipal aggregations going above and beyond state requirements, like Somerville CCE.
1Future savings compared to Eversource Basic Service cannot be guaranteed because future Basic Service prices change every 6 months for residential and small business customers and every three months for large business customers.
2Hydro projects that do not exceed 30 MW built after 1997 or have capacity additions or efficiency improvements made after 1997 (MA Class I eligible), and Low Impact Hydro Institute (LIHI) certified.
3 Environmental Protection Agency. Understanding Global Warming Potentials. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/understanding-global-warming-potentials