Baker-Polito Administration Awards Over $1 Million in Funding for Energy Projects

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Craig Gilvarg
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Feb 21, 2018 –
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BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration, in conjunction with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), today announced $1,050,000 in grants to support feasibility assessments for 14 microgrid development projects in 12 communities across Massachusetts aimed at lowering customer energy costs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and providing increased energy resiliency. Microgrids are defined areas of interconnected buildings or energy loads - including critical facilities - powered by distributed energy resources that can interconnect with the broader electric grid, and can operate independently, or island from the grid. Microgrids help to integrate clean energy technologies and battery storage, and are particularly useful when addressing the local impacts of climate change, helping to keeping critical facilities – like hospitals and gas stations – operational during extended power outages.

“Diversifying Massachusetts’ energy portfolio and increasing our resilience helps us continue leading the way on preparing for the impacts of climate change,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These grants will support developing microgrids and modernizing our electric grid, while improving efficiency and lowering costs for ratepayers across the Commonwealth.”

“As cities and towns across Massachusetts explore ways to increase resilience and prepare for the effects of climate change, our administration is committed to supporting new and innovative energy infrastructure,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.  “These grants complement the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program announced last year, and help these communities explore the benefits microgrids can provide to residents, from lower energy costs to reduced greenhouse gas emissions.”

MassCEC’s Community Microgrids program awarded 14 grants totaling $75,000 each for feasibility studies in the cities and towns of Acton, Boston, Charlestown, Chelsea, Hull, Melrose, Montague, Palmer, Pittsfield, Sandwich and Worcester as well as Hanscom Air Force Base. The proposed projects include affordable housing facilities, hospitals, fire and police departments, gas stations, public schools, emergency shelters, grocery stores and water and wastewater treatment plants.

“By providing grants to these communities, the Baker-Polito Administration is proactively seeking solutions to critical energy challenges facing our state,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “These grants can help our communities meet a range of objectives, including greenhouse gas emission reductions, economic development, community resilience, energy cost reductions and clean energy integration while putting these projects in position to draw significant private investment.”

“Microgrid development is a strategic opportunity for the Commonwealth to transform the way we utilize our energy resources,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson. “These grants will provide necessary information for how communities can integrate microgrids into our diversified energy portfolio.”

“These assessments will provide critical insight into the potential benefits community-based microgrids could deliver to ratepayers across the Commonwealth,” said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike. “While increasing resilience and lowering the cost of energy in these communities, we expect these projects will help to identify market barriers and provide models that can be replicated in cities and towns across the state.”

MassCEC awarded $75,000 grants for each feasibility study in the following communities:

Project Name

Location

Acton Water District

Acton

Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park

Boston

Resilient Urban Neighborhoods-Green Justice Coalition: Boston-Chinatown

Boston

Community Microgrid Anchored at Wentworth Institute of Technology

Boston

Partners HealthCare System - Charlestown Navy Yard

Charlestown

Resilient Urban Neighborhoods-Green Justice Coalition: Chelsea

Chelsea

Hanscom Microgrid

Hanscom Air Force Base

Hull Community Microgrid

Hull

Downtown Melrose

Melrose

Montague Fire station, Police station and two schools

Montague

Palmer Microgrid

Palmer

City of Pittsfield Downtown Microgrid

Pittsfield

Golden Triangle Microgrid

Sandwich

Community Clean Energy Project - Worcester

Worcester

 

In September 2016, Governor Baker signed an Executive Order which lays out a comprehensive approach to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, and build a more resilient Commonwealth.  Recognizing the need to strengthen the resilience of communities throughout Massachusetts, a key commitment in this order is coordinating assistance to cities and towns as they prepare for the impacts of climate change. In June 2017, the administration announced the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program, which awarded $1 million in grant funding to 71 towns and cities across the Commonwealth to provide communities with technical support, climate change data and planning tools to identify hazards and develop strategies to improve resilience.

“Microgrids, which can be powered by renewable energy sources and backed up with reliable storage technology, will help the Commonwealth lower energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and move towards a more resilient future,” said State Representative Thomas A. Golden, Jr. (D-Lowell), Chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. “These grants will help ensure that our hospitals, schools, police and fire stations are and will continue to be models for the nation not only in the services they provide but also in how those services are powered.”

“Congratulations to Thorndike Energy and the town of Palmer for taking the initiative to explore this opportunity,” said State Representative Todd Smola (R-Warren). “It’s essential that we always look for ways to make our energy grid more efficient and sustainable and that’s exactly what this grant from MassCEC helps to do.”

“This is a vital step towards understanding how to protect our critical infrastructure and our most vulnerable residents, while also reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions,” said State Senator Adam G. Hinds (D- Pittsfield).  “Facilities that provide critical services and infrastructure require sustainable resiliency, especially as we begin dealing with the ever-increasing impacts of a changing climate. The City of Pittsfield hosts these services and infrastructure used by residents all through Berkshire County, including the main BMC hospital campus and the largest density of elderly, disabled, and low-to-moderate income family housing.”

“Thorndike Energy has a solid model to attract business to the area and this grant is hopefully one of more to come,” said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer). “Microgrids are a necessary complement to energy independence and vital to communities.”

“There is immense value in quantifying existing resources and potential opportunities for developing a community microgrid in Pittsfield,” said State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield). “The city center provides many critical services and infrastructure, including those at Berkshire Medical and the largest number and density of housing for elderly, disabled, and low- and moderate-income families in the county. Providing a resilient micro grid here will be an excellent pilot program for the rest of the Commonwealth.”

MassCEC is funded by the Renewable Energy Trust, which was created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1998. A systems benefit charge paid by customers of investor owned utilities and five municipal electric departments that have opted into the program funds the trust.