Massachusetts' Department of Energy Resources (DOER) is coordinating a process under which the state's investor-owned electric utilities are soliciting bids for approximately 750,000 MWh of energy to be supplied by new renewable power projects sited in Massachusetts.
The solicitation is the next step in the implementation of the Green Community Act, which requires Massachusetts electric distribution companies to enter into 10- to 15-year contracts with renewable energy projects located within state boundaries, including state and adjacent federal waters.
The utilities participating in this solicitation are Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Co. (doing business as Unitil), Massachusetts Electric Co. and Nantucket Electric Co. (doing business as National Grid), NSTAR Electric Co. and Western Massachusetts Electric Co.
Under the Green Communities Act, electric distribution companies must solicit long-term contracts for renewable power at least twice by July 1, 2014, for a total of 3% of each company's distribution sales. Eligible projects are those that qualify for renewable energy certificates under the Massachusetts renewable portfolio standard (RPS) class I regulations.
Under the RPS, electricity suppliers are required to purchase a minimum percentage of their power from qualified renewable energy suppliers each year. Set at 5% for this year, the minimum benchmark increases by 1% annually under the Green Communities Act. Both the RPS and the new requirement for long-term contracting are meant to provide certainty for clean energy developers and help them obtain the financing needed to build successful projects, according to the DOER.
Bids are due to electric distribution companies on Feb. 19. Contracts with successful renewable energy bidders are anticipated to be signed in June, after which the power purchase agreements of each individual utility company will be submitted to the Department of Public Utilities for review and approval.