HeatSmart Mass: FAQ

FAQ

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 $9,000; 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.”

 

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.

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.

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 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.

 

Technology

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.

 

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.

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.