HeatSmart Massachusetts (HeatSmart Mass) seeks to increase the adoption of small-scale clean heating and cooling technologies in participating communities through a competitive solicitation process that aggregates homeowner buying power to lower installation prices for participants.

The deadline for towns and cities to apply to the HeatSmart Mass Program Pilot  closed on September 15, 2017. MassCEC expects to announce the four pilot communities in November 2017.

Communities with High Cost Heating Fuels

While all towns and cities in Massachusetts are eligible to apply, households with high cost heating fuels (oil, electric resistance, and propane) will see the highest cost savings for switching to clean heating and cooling. Review this map to see the number of households in your community that heat with high cost heating fuels.

The deadline for towns and cities to apply to the HeatSmart Mass Program Pilot  closed on September 15, 2017. MassCEC expects to announce the four pilot communities in November 2017.

The Installer RFP will be posted after the pilot Communities are selected. Installers interested in applying to participate in the HeatSmart Mass program should review RFP for details once it becomes available and visit the Installer Resources page.

General Program Overview

What resources will MassCEC provide as part of the HeatSmart program?   

  • MassCEC and its technical consultants will provide the following types of support for communities selected for the HeatSmart pilot program: 
    • Issue the installer RFP and contract with the selected installers; 
    • Provide advice to the community in selecting an installer; 
    • Develop template marketing and outreach materials, informational materials, and information to help volunteers identify residents who may be the best fit for clean heating and cooling technologies; 
    • Provide a marketing budget of up to $9,000f or municipalities that are applying individually and $6,000 for municipalities that are applying as part of a multi-municipality partnership; and
    • Serve as a technical resource for the HeatSmart Coach and other volunteers.  
    • Note: For individual installations the installer will serve as the technical expert.

What is the timeline for deployment of this program? 

  • The final timeline for deployment of the program will be dependent on a number of factors, but an estimated timeline is included below: 

What if we miss the deadline?

  • MassCEC has extended the application deadline from September 1, 2017 to September 15, 2017 in order to allow communities more time to prepare their applications. MassCEC will not accept any applications submitted after 11:59 PM on September 15, 2017. Communities that are not able to apply by September 15, 2017 may consider applying for future rounds of HeatSmart Mass.

Does the HeatSmart Mass pilot program allow for both residential and commercial entities to participate?

  • The HeatSmart Mass pilot program is primarily targeting residential projects, but it is also open to small-scale commercial clean heating and cooling installations. As part of the Solarize Mass program, MassCEC staff have found that commercial-scale projects generally take longer to go through a contracting process, which often takes longer than the sign-up timeframe of a community program. This may or may not be the case for the selecting heating technologies.

Can residents with low or moderate income participate in the HeatSmart Mass program?

  • The program is for residents of all income levels. As stated in the RFP, in order to increase access to clean energy to all residents of the Commonwealth, “[p]roposals from municipalities that have a median household income below the state average and/or a specific plan to target low- and moderate-income residents will be given additional consideration.”

How do I submit the application for my community to participate in the HeatSmart Mass pilot?

  • To apply for the HeatSmart Mass pilot program, make sure that you submit Attachments A-C and optionally Attachment D to heatsmartmass@masscec.com by September 15, 2017 at 11:59 PM. The application in Attachment A should be no longer than 15 pages, not including the proposal checklist on the first page. All emails to MassCEC should be less than 25 MB

The HeatSmart application requires a letter from the municipal Chief Executive Officer which includes a “Statement of Commitment”.  What is meant by a Statement of Commitment?

  • A statement of commitment should be a sentence or two that describes the municipality’s commitment to participating in the HeatSmart Mass pilot program. This statement should reference the municipality’s level of commitment to supporting the HeatSmart effort through dedication of appropriate staffing, willingness to address regulatory hurdles as they arise, joint promotion of the campaign, etc.

Will the HeatSmart Mass pilot program include incentive tiers based on the number of contracts signed like Solarize Mass?

  • At this time, MassCEC is not anticipating that the HeatSmart Mass pilot program will include incentive tiers based on the number of contracts. Instead, we will ask installers to offer a standard discounted price for all participants of a selected community.

What is the nature of the agreement between the installer(s) and the successful applicant? How will a successful applicant coordinate with the installer(s)?  What are the installer obligations to the successful applicant?

  • MassCEC will contract with the Installer, on behalf of the community and the selected installer would therefore be bound to all of MassCEC’s terms and conditions.After community & subsequent installer selection, MassCEC will host a kick off call with all parties. This will help establish best methods of communication, lead contacts from each group, etc. Selected communities and installers are welcome to communicate as often as needed during the course of the program. The installers obligations will be based off of the expectations set by the program, the Community, and will follow all agreed upon terms and conditions for all programmatic and legal obligations.

Do residents need to have a Mass Save home energy assessment before they can participate in the HeatSmart Mass pilot program?

  • MassCEC highly encourages residents to look for energy efficiency opportunities before installing a clean heating and cooling system. This will enable residents to save money on their heating and cooling fuels no matter how they heat and cool their homes. It will also allow residents interested in clean heating and cooling options to purchase a smaller heating and cooling system. Furthermore, in order to be eligible for the 0% interested Mass Save Heat Loan and the MassCEC rebates, residents must have completed a home energy assessment.

What information technology resources, if any, will MassCEC make available to a successful applicant?

  • MassCEC will maintain a HeatSmart Mass page, but at this time does not intend to provide information technology resources such as a community-specific webpage. MassCEC will provide guidance to selected communities on appropriate content for an online presence created by the municipality or volunteer group. Examples of online tools used in the past include providing information on a municipal webpage, Facebook page, or other volunteer-led webpage. Examples of community websites for recent Solarize Mass campaigns are available here: http://www.masscec.com/solarize-mass.

Will there be future rounds of HeatSmart Mass?

  • Based on the results of the pilot, MassCEC anticipates running future rounds of HeatSmart Mass.

Roles and Responsibilities

Does the HeatSmart Coach need to be an individual either employed by the community or a resident of the community? Additionally, could the HeatSmart Coach position be a shared by multiple individuals?

  • The HeatSmart Coach must be a resident of the community, but they do not need to be employed by the community. The Municipal Representative should be employed by the community. The HeatSmart Coach must also be a single designated individual who is the main point of contact within the community for daily operations between MassCEC, the installer, and the community. Although the designated HeatSmart Coach should be one individual, MassCEC encourages additional individuals to take on active roles during the campaign, and will allow both the HeatSmart Coach and other volunteers to attend the HeatSmart Mass Coach training session. This allows for additional volunteers to learn clean heating and cooling technology and program basics. This will enable some cross-training within the community and assist in local education.

Does the Municipal Representative have to be a paid staff member, or can they be a non-paid or stipend elected representative? 

  • The community Municipal Representative can be a paid or non-paid staff member or elected representative. The Municipal Representative must be directly affiliated with the municipal government and someone who can serve as an available resource throughout the duration of the program, as well as after the program – for example, someone who may be able to provide insight into the permitting process for clean heating and cooling technology projects and appropriately represent the goals of the municipality.

What would be the role of the Municipal Representative in permitting review and streamlining efforts and organizing code and safety training on selected clean heating and cooling technologies? If multiple municipalities are applying in partnership do Municipal Representatives need to coordinate these activities in all of the partnership municipalities or just their own?

  • All of these efforts are optional, based on the interest of participating municipalities. As part of the HeatSmart Mass pilot program, MassCEC plans to offer participating Communities the opportunity to have training for permitting and/or inspection staff on the selected technologies. The duration and scope of these trainings would be based on the needs of the selected Communities, as approved by MassCEC. Municipal Representatives would help assess whether any trainings on the selected technologies would be useful for their permitting and/or inspection staff, provide information about the desired scope to MassCEC, and help organize a time and location to hold the trainings. For multi-municipality partnerships, each Municipal Representative would only be responsible for assessing the needs of their own municipality, although MassCEC would ideally schedule one training for all of the municipalities in the partnership and would ask for each Municipal Representative’s assistance in finding a time and location that works for staff from all of the partnered municipalities.

Can the Municipal Representative and the HeatSmart Coach be the same person under the HeatSmart Mass Program?

  • The Municipal Representative and the HeatSmart Coach cannot be the same person. Both roles will be expected to commit a significant amount of time to the program. As the RFP says: “Based on the Solarize Mass program, it is anticipated that the Community volunteer team may supply a total of 400 to 600 hours during the course of the HeatSmart Mass Program. Whether the volunteer hours were broken up among a large or small group of volunteers, Communities should be aware of this time commitment when applying to participate as part of the HeatSmart Mass Program.” Through experience with the Solarize Mass program, MassCEC has found that the Municipal Representative and HeatSmart Coach play different roles within the community and it is important for them to support each other.

Attachment C, HeatSmart Coach Commitment Form, Item F, states that the Coach “will only answer questions from resident’s regarding basic questions about clean heating and cooling, including incentives.”  Please explain the limitations implied by the word “only.”

  • Item F is intended to clarify that the Coach should not provide technical information beyond the basics expressed in the Community Volunteer training.  This helps avoid potential confusion or miscommunication from the technical expertise the selected installer would be providing.

What is MassCEC's flexibility in allowing a community to work with a third-party entity to provide enhanced technical assistance and project management as part of this campaign?

  • MassCEC welcomes communities to propose additional partnerships to strengthen and customize the HeatSmart pilot program as part of their applications.

 

Financial

What is the financial benefit of participating in the HeatSmart program? Additionally, what incentives are available?

  • HeatSmart is a community outreach and education initiative coupled with competitive pricing offered through a group purchase model. As part of the initiative, MassCEC and participating communities will competitively select an installer or installers who will offer fixed reduced pricing for residents in the community during the course of the program. Because this is a pilot program, MassCEC does not yet have information regarding cost savings residents will see through this program. The Solarize Mass program has generally been very successful at achieving average savings of 20% compared to state average prices through the bulk purchase of systems. Part of the goal of the pilot is to understand whether or not the savings for heating technologies will be comparable. In addition, all of MassCEC’s standard rebates and the 0% interest Mass Save Heat Loan will be available to participants in this program who are served by eligible utilities.

If the installation cost savings for the selected clean heating and cooling technologies are unknown for this pilot, how can customers decide whether or not to participate?

  • Before the customer sign-up period begins, MassCEC will work with the selected Communities to pick one or more installers for each of other selected technologies. The installers will offer standard pricing as part of their proposal to participate in the HeatSmart Mass pilot program, and MassCEC can offer data on how these prices compare to average prices. So by the time that customers are able to sign up for the program the cost savings will be known.

The RFP say, “each Community can request a marketing grant of up to $9,000 to utilize for Community-specific marketing needs.” Since multi-municipality partnerships are defined as a single Community, does this mean that in a multi-municipality partnership all of the municipalities would split the $9,000? How would this work?

  • MassCEC has revised that section of the RFP to clarify the marketing grants for multi-municipality partnerships. This section now reads: “Each Community will receive a ‘starter kit’ of standardized marketing and outreach materials that will include a clean heating and cooling guidebook, post cards, posters, banners, and t-shirts. Additionally, each Community can request a marketing grant to utilize for Community-specific marketing needs (as approved by MassCEC). Applicant Communities that consist of a single municipality may request up to $9,000. Applicant Communities that consist of multiple municipalities may request up to $6,000 per municipality. Communities do not need to request the entire amount, and MassCEC will pay out the marketing grant in increments no greater than $3,000. Of the total marketing grant, up to $1,000 may be used by each municipality as a stipend for the HeatSmart Coach. If the Community wishes to pay the HeatSmart Coach a stipend, it is the responsibility of the participating municipalities to determine the feasibility and administration of remitting such payment.”
  • During the implementation of the HeatSmart Mass pilot program, if a municipality has spent its entire marketing grant and still feels that additional marketing support would be beneficial, MassCEC may consider requests for additional funding on a case by case basis based on funding availability and the benefit of additional marketing efforts.  

 

Technology

How many technologies can each community select?

  • Each Community will select at least one of the eligible clean heating and cooling technologies. Communities may select multiple technologies, up to all four of the eligible technologies. Selecting multiple technologies will give residents of participating Communities more options to select the clean heating and cooling technology that works best for their home and budget. If a Community selects multiple technologies, it will most likely mean working with multiple installers and educating residents on multiple technologies and may require increased effort on the part of the Community. MassCEC has no preference for how many technologies each Community selects; it is dependent on the compatibility and capacity of each Community. Communities may also indicate that they are potentially interested in multiple technologies or multiple combinations of technologies and during the Community selection process, MassCEC can work with the Community to determine which technology or combination of technologies best meets the needs of their Community.

Could our community include a technology other than the four listed in the RFP as part of the HeatSmart Mass pilot?

  • Only the four technologies listed in the RFP (central biomass heating, air-source heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps, and solar hot water) are eligible to be part of the HeatSmart Mass pilot program.

What types of biomass boilers are eligible to be selected as part of the HeatSmart program?

  • The HeatSmart Mass pilot program is open to all technologies that are eligible for MassCEC rebates. Wood chip boilers are technically eligible for MassCEC's rebate program, but at this time MassCEC is not aware of wood chip boilers that have completed the testing to become eligible for residential installation under the federal NSPS regulations. If a wood chip boiler did complete the testing to meet the requirements of the NSPS regulations, as well as MassCEC’s rebate program requirements, that wood chip boiler would be eligible to participate in the HeatSmart pilot program.

It appears that there are only a couple of central ducted air-source heat pump units that are eligible for the MassCEC rebate, while most of the eligible units are ductless air-source heat pumps. We believe that central ducted air-source heat pumps may be a good solution for many homes in our community. Would it be possible to promote these units as part of the HeatSmart Mass pilot program?

  • MassCEC recognizes that based on our current efficiency and rating requirements, very few central ducted air-source heat pumps are eligible for the MassCEC rebate, and also recognizes that these types of air-source heat pumps may be a good fit for some homes. For the HeatSmart Mass pilot program, MassCEC will request pricing for best in class central ducted air-source heat pumps in the Installer RFP, if Communities indicate in their application that they would be interested in centrally ducted air-source heat pumps. However, MassCEC would require, at a minimum, that central ducted air-source heat pumps are listed on NEEP’s cold-climate air-source heat pump specification listing. Also, most of these technologies will still not be eligible for MassCEC rebates. The other technologies (ground-source heat pumps, central biomass heating, and solar hot water) must be rebate eligible to be installed as part of the HeatSmart Mass pilot program.

For Solarize there was a common capacity metric (total kW DC) for each installation. What will the capacity metrics be for the HeatSmart Mass pilot program?

  • In general, MassCEC will track the capacity per project in kBTU/hr of heating capacity. MassCEC will provide a specific definition of how the capacity is to be measured for each technology. For example, for air-source heat pumps, MassCEC will track the systems’ heating capacity at 5°F as reported in the NEEP specification, whereas for ground-source heat pumps MassCEC will track the systems’ AHRI full load rating.

How do you recommend that Communities deal with HVAC installers who may not be accustomed to providing sophisticated financial payback assessments and/or may offer shorter warranties relative to solar photovoltaic systems?

  • MassCEC recognizes that the clean heating and cooling market is different from the solar photovoltaic market. While the HeatSmart Mass program is modeled on the Solarize Mass program, we expect that there will be significant differences in the two programs. One key difference is that every home already has a heating system, so HeatSmart Mass will be looking to replace or supplement an existing system instead of adding on a completely new element to a home. As part of the installer selection process, MassCEC will work with the selected Communities to select installers that offer financial assessments and warranties on par or surpassing the HVAC industry standard and MassCEC program requirements. MassCEC will also provide selected Communities with talking points and educational resources for each of the selected technologies to supplement the information provided by the installers.

Community Eligibility

The RFP says that communities that are not served by an investor owned utility (e.g. Eversource, National Grid), or a Municipal Light Plant utility that does not pay into the Renewable Energy Trust (and is therefore not eligible for MassCEC's rebates) must "offer no-cost energy audits and incentives for the selected clean heating and cooling technologies comparable to the MassCEC rebates in order to ensure that the selected clean heating and cooling technologies will be cost effective for residents." Can MassCEC clarify what a community would need to provide to clarify that incentives be comparable?

  • As long as a community offers no-cost energy audits and some incentive for the selected clean heating and cooling technologies they are eligible to apply for the HeatSmart Mass pilot. If the incentives offered are lower than MassCEC's rebates, the application should include some other offsetting factor (such as lower electric prices) to allow the technology to be cost competitive with an equivalent technology receiving a MassCEC rebate.

In reviewing the HeatSmart fuel cost map, can MassCEC clarify how areas of higher or lower fuel costs were determined and why MassCEC chose this metric to highlight.

  • The high cost heating fuel map is based on census data.  Sites that are using high cost heating fuels will receive a better value proposition when considering switching to a clean heating and cooling technology, as compared to sites heating with natural gas, and are therefore more likely to contract under the program. MassCEC chose to highlight this metric because communities with a greater percentage of the population affected by higher cost heating fuels may have higher participation rates for these technologies, which is one factor that will play into the success of the program. Communities should feel free to highlight other reasons that they believe the HeatSmart pilot program would be particularly successful in their community in their application.

I do not see my town on your high cost heating fuel map. How can I get the data for my town?

  • This map is based on census tracts, so if multiple towns are included in the same census tract, only one of their names shows up in our drop down menu. Another way to get a sense of how many homes in your town heat with way fuels is to enter your town name into this link: https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/community_facts.xhtml. At that link, you can select “Housing” from the menu bars on the right and then select “Physical Housing Characteristics for Occupied Housing Units” for an estimate of the heating fuels in your town.

When applying for the HeatSmart Mass pilot program, does it matter whether a community has already done Solarize Mass?

  • The HeatSmart Mass pilot program is open to communities that have already participated in Solarize Mass, but it is not a requirement. If your community is interested in promoting solar PV and clean heating and cooling at once, check out Solarize Mass Plus.

Are neighborhoods allowed to apply to the HeatSmart Mass program?

  • If a community has clearly a defined neighborhood with at least 1,000 owner occupied residences, the neighborhood may apply to the HeatSmart Mass pilot program. The neighborhood must be clearly defined geographically, and the application must describe a reasonable method for MassCEC and other program stakeholders to determine whether a given site falls within the neighborhood boundaries (i.e. specific zip codes, etc.). Applying neighborhoods must meet all of the requirements outlined in the Community RFP.

The HeatSmart Massachusetts Program Pilot is a partnership between MassCEC and Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER).

How it works

HeatSmart Mass is a community-based outreach and education program that will encourage clean heating and cooling technologies that include air-source heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps, central biomass heating, and solar hot water. The Program aims to help 1) drive down the installation cost and 2) increase deployment of residential and small-scale commercial clean heating and cooling installations through a group purchasing model. HeatSmart Mass is modeled on the highly successful Solarize Massachusetts program, which is now in its seventh year and has served 63 communities and resulted in over 3,200 contracts and 21.6 megawatts of solar photovoltaic projects.

Each participating community competitively selects designated installer(s) to offer one or more of the clean heating and cooling technologies to interested residents.

HeatSmart Mass Community Marketing Proposals

Developing a marketing proposal prior to the launch of a community group purchasing campaign can provide a useful roadmap for communities, and may benefit program results. For the pilot HeatSmart Mass communities, it may be helpful to refer to the marketing plans for the communities that have done Solarize Mass campaign. All of these marketing plans and other resources are available under “Program Background” on the Solarize Mass webpage.

As communities move forward with HeatSmart Mass campaigns, their community marketing proposals will be provided below to assist future communities and other interested parties in considering different strategies for implementing a HeatSmart Mass or similar group purchasing campaign.

Background on the Solarize Model

The links below provide information on the Solarize Mass Model, results, and resources.