The Cambridge Community Electricity program was designed to encourage the development of new renewable energy projects in Cambridge and New England. By purchasing renewable energy from local renewable energy projects, the program both creates a stronger market for that electricity and increases the amount of renewable energy in the City’s electricity supply.
The program includes two options, Standard Green and 100% Green, and each includes more renewable energy than the amount included in Eversource Basic Service.
Encouraging new solar projects in Cambridge
The Standard Green option includes 25% more solar energy than the minimum required by Massachusetts. Cambridge will work to buy that extra solar energy from renewable energy projects located in Cambridge. Specifically, Cambridge will endeavor to purchase local Massachusetts SREC IIs.
Renewable energy is purchased through renewable energy certificates, or RECs. Solar renewable energy certificates are called SRECS. Visit this page and scroll to the bottom to learn about RECs.
By limiting its purchase to solar energy from in and around Cambridge, the City hopes to create a stronger market for local solar and, as a result, stimulate the development of new projects. The City is focused on solar because solar is the most likely type of renewable energy project to be built in Cambridge.
Exactly how much extra solar are we getting?
Massachusetts requires that all electricity include a minimum amount of renewable energy, and as part of that, a minimum amount of solar energy.
The Standard Green option includes 25% more than the minimum amount of solar energy required by Massachusetts. The current requirement is that solar must make up a minimum of 2.8628% of your electricity use. The Standard Green option will increase your solar by 25%, which means approximately 3.5785% of your electricity will be from local solar projects. Cambridge is accomplishing this by purchasing 4,000 SRECs, which translates to 4,000 MWh of solar electricity.
To put this in real-world terms, the MBTA Alewife garage solar project generates 1400 MWh of solar electricity annually. This means the Standard Green offering both offers a lower price and buys electricity that is equivalent to the output of almost 3 Alewife garage solar projects.
Why is the amount such a small percentage? Because solar energy is very expensive, more than 13 times more expensive than energy from other types of renewable energy projects. The City is purchasing as much local solar as it can, while still ensuring the price for Standard Green is below the price of Eversource Basic Service.
Yet purchasing this amount of solar from within Cambridge can have a real impact. All of the solar projects currently installed in Cambridge together produce approximately 7,500 MWh of electricity per year. If by purchasing 4,000 MWh of that electricity, the City creates a motivation for the development of new solar projects that produce an additional 4,000 MWh of solar, the program will have increased the amount of solar installed in Cambridge by 50%.
For those who want 100% renewable energy.
Also supports the development of new renewable projects in New England.
This option is not focused exclusively on solar because that would make it prohibitively expensive. However, it does include only renewable energy generated in New England. Specifically, for the 100% Green option, Cambridge is purchasing Massachusetts Class I RECs. (Learn how Massachusetts Class I RECs are defined.) The goal is to create a stronger market for energy produced by renewable energy projects in New England and, by doing that, to stimulate the development of new projects.
The 100% Green option includes energy produced by a range of renewable energy projects. The majority is wind energy, but it could also include energy produced by anaerobic digestion, biomass, and landfill gas.