Stoneham CEA is committed to supporting 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. Stoneham CEA is leveraging the buying power of our community to bring more clean electricity to our residents and businesses.
A Green Option for Everyone
Stoneham’s standard product, Local Green, has five percent (5%) extra renewable energy included, above and beyond state requirements.
Participating in Local Green makes an impact on emissions and brings us closer to a renewable energy future. We also offer optional products that add 50% and 100% clean energy for those that want to be climate champions and more significantly reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.
Buying from New England, Buying Clean
All of the extra renewable energy in the Stoneham CEA program qualifies as MA Class I, provided through the 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. It is one of the most stringent green standards in the country, but Stoneham CEA’s program is even better. We source our extra renewable energy exclusively from within New England. We’re helping to keep our energy impact local, supporting New England’s clean energy economy. Green Energy Consumers Alliance, the source for all of Stoneham’s extra renewable energy, helps bring new renewable projects to life through long-term contracts.
Only Zero-Emission or Methane-Destroying Sources
Stoneham CEA’s extra renewable energy only comes from zero emission sources, such as solar, wind, low-impact hydro1, or sources that destroy the potent greenhouse gas methane, such as anaerobic digestion2. Although traditional biomass, e.g., wood-fired generation, is eligible as MA Class I, the Stoneham CEA program does not plan to include any for its extra renewable energy.
Green Energy Consumers Alliance, the source for all of Stoneham’s extra renewable energy, helps bring new renewable projects to life through long-term contracts and strategic sourcing of projects around New England, with a primary focus on Massachusetts and Rhode Island sources.
Helping to Build Clean Energy
The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a state requirement for electricity suppliers to include a minimum amount of MA Class I renewable energy in their mix. By increasing the percentage of electricity that is renewable every year, this policy provides growing demand for renewable energy, which in turn, incentivizes new renewables to be built. By purchasing extra MA Class I renewable energy, Stoneham is increasing demand, thereby incentivizing the development of more even renewable energy generation facilities.
How big is our impact? Between March 2019 and March 2020, Stoneham CEA bought 2,958 MWh of extra MA Class I renewable energy, above and beyond state requirements. These voluntary purchases are roughly equivalent to the output of the annual production of one typical wind turbine (1.5 MW each).
We are excited that many other cities and towns are joining with Stoneham to implement the same type of program and amplify the impact. In fact, recent estimates suggest that fully 10% of the entire MA Class I renewable electricity market is forecasted to be voluntarily purchased by municipal aggregations going above and beyond state requirements.
What Are RECs and Why We Need Them
When electricity generated by renewable sources – such as solar and wind – is put onto our regional electricity grid, it becomes mixed in with and indistinguishable from the other electricity on the grid. It is not possible to physically separate out renewable electricity from the grid mix for your individual consumption.
As a result, a tracking system, called Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), has been created to enable the purchase and use of renewable electricity. For every one megawatt-hour of renewable electricity generated, one REC is created. In order to use renewable electricity, one must purchase a quantity of RECs equal to the amount of electricity purchased from the grid. Once used, a REC is retired so that no one else can purchase that same REC or claim to use it.
1Hydro 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.
2Environmental Protection Agency. Understanding Global Warming Potentials. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/understanding-global-warming-potentials