Electricity aggregation and community sustainability

Worcester Community Choice gives the City an opportunity to take a big step toward achieving its sustainability goals.

Through Worcester Community Choice, the City will be able to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the electricity that City residents and businesses use. The City will at least double the amount of electricity generated by renewable energy sources like the sun and the wind in the City’s electricity supply, and Worcester electricity customers can also choose 100% renewable electricity.

Purchasing electricity generated from renewable sources instead of electricity generated by burning fossil fuels is important because it does not pollute the air and does not create the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

What is renewable energy?

Renewable energy is energy generated by sources that can be renewed as opposed  to sources that can be used only once, such as fossil fuels.

Under Massachusetts state law, a variety of resources quality as renewable. The main sources of renewable energy are solar, wind, and small hydroelectric projects.

Not all renewable energy is the same

Worcester prioritizes buying renewable energy from New England-based renewable energy projects.

  • More renewable energy added to the local grid. Buying renewable energy from New England strengthens demand for the electricity generated by those projects. This helps to stimulate the development of more renewable energy projects in New England.
  • Stronger local businesses and local jobs. Purchasing renewable energy from New England-based renewable energy projects means supporting New England-based businesses and the jobs they provide to local communities.

 

Opt up to Worcester 100% Green!

The program offers the option for you to choose 100% renewable electricity with the Worcester 100% Green option. If you opt up to Worcester 100% Green, all of the electricity you use will be generated from renewable sources like the sun and the wind. By choosing 100% renewable electricity, you make an even greater commitment to sustainability.

Worcester 100% Green provides 100% renewable electricity for 14.031 ¢/kWh.

Opt up to Worcester 100% Green

What it means to “buy renewable energy”

Unless you have a renewable energy system, such as solar panels, plugged directly into your home or office, you cannot purchase the specific electricity that is generated by a renewable energy project. The electricity flowing through the grid is a mix, and it includes electricity generated by renewable energy projects as well as electricity generated by fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and gas, and other resources such as nuclear. The individual sources cannot be separated out at the level of the grid.

As a result, a separate system has been created to keep track of renewable energy and to allow it to be bought and sold. That system uses renewable energy certificates, or RECs. Every time a renewable energy project generates 1 megawatt-hour of electricity, 1 REC is minted. That REC can then be sold. Purchasing a REC gives you the right to say you used the electricity from that renewable energy project.

Anyone who wishes to purchase renewable electricity must then purchase 2 things: they must purchase the electricity itself from the grid, and then they must also purchase RECs for a percentage of electricity usage that they want to claim as green. (These two costs are often bundled together, and they are why renewable energy costs a bit more.) Those RECs are then retired so that they cannot be purchased by anyone else, and no one else can claim to have used that renewable electricity.

The Worcester Community Choice Aggregation program is purchasing RECs in order to integrate an increased amount of renewable energy into the City’s electricity supply. No one else will be able to claim the energy associated with the RECs that Worcester buys.

The minimum amount of renewable energy required by state law

Massachusetts state law requires that all electricity sold in the state must include a minimum amount of electricity generated by renewable sources. These requirements are known as the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The required amounts of renewable energy from New England increase a little every year:

  • 16% in 2020
  • 18% in 2021
  • 20% in 2022

The Worcester Community Choice Electricity Aggregation program will at least double the amount of electricity from local renewable energy projects in the City’s electricity supply.