Municipal aggregation of local, renewable energy earns Greenfield recognition

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American City & County magazine has named Greenfield one of its 2016 Crown Communities for the city’s municipal electricity aggregation program, which offers ratepayers 100 percent green electricity from local and regional sources while still managing to lower residents’ bills.
Carole Collins, the city’s energy and sustainability director, said the city worked with Peregrine Energy Group and The Bay State Consulting Group to develop a municipal aggregation plan that aimed to offer as much green energy as possible while remaining competitively priced. The city offered the program to residents as part of its opt-in Greenfield Light and Power Program.
“We were pleasantly surprised when we were able to do 100 percent renewable electricity and still beat the Eversource rate,” Collins said.
In a statement, Mayor William Martin noted that Greenfield Light and Power had already offered a 100 percent green power option to participants before reaching the local renewable milestone lauded by American City and County.
“Municipal aggregation was an untapped tool to accomplish sustainability goals, and Greenfield has developed a model that is being replicated in communities across Massachusetts,” Martin said. “This is another step in our quest for energy independence, which also furthers our sustainability goals.”
The aggregation plan negotiated the purchase of renewable energy certificates – which the state requires utilities and electricity suppliers to purchase each year – from sources no farther away than Maine. The plan purchases some energy from generators right in Greenfield, including farms, which Collins said has the added benefit of helping the local economy.
Over the past year, solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) have become oversupplied on the market.
“There are people that are unable to get a market price for their SRECs, and they need to be purchased but utilities have met their quotas,” Collins said. “We’re guaranteeing an income stream for those projects.”
Collins admitted to being surprised that the city could secure a 100 percent green plan with a price lower than utility rate. In the past, purchasing green energy usually meant paying a premium.
“I think it might be because there’s an increasing number of renewable energy projects,” she said.
Greenfield also recently celebrated another milestone: reducing its energy use by 20 percent, the benchmark for the state’s Green Communities program. Greenfield was one of the first communities to join the program.
After completing large-scale projects such as changing city streetlights to LED bulbs and building a new LEED Gold-certified high school, the reduction was largely achieved by “constantly chipping away at lots of different things,” Collins said. The smaller projects include switching from oil furnaces and burners to gas, insulation projects, and sealing up city buildings.