Baker-Polito Administration Joins UMass Amherst to Celebrate Clean Energy Projects

Erika McCarthy

BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, and Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Commissioner Patrick Woodcock joined with University of Massachusetts (UMass) President Marty Meehan and UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy for a ribbon cutting at a recently completed solar canopy and battery storage system, as well as to highlight clean energy projects at the campus. To support the project, the 4-megawatt solar canopy and battery storage system was awarded a $1.1 million grant from DOER through its Leading by Example Program. This project follows an additional $1.1 million grant previously awarded to UMass Amherst through MassCEC’s Advancing Commonwealth Energy Storage (ACES) for the installation of a 1-megawatt lithium ion battery storage unit, which supports the campus to effectively use the renewable energy generated on campus while also providing resiliency and peak demand management.

“Massachusetts continues to make great strides in advancing clean energy solutions through the installation of innovative technologies like these here at UMass that will further our efforts in achieving the state’s climate goals,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Supporting the clean energy industry today is more important than ever, which is why we were proud to propose the FORWARD Act to provide $750 million in investments to the sector and assist in the advancement of innovation, research, and technology.”

“By utilizing strategic partnerships between state agencies and institutions like UMass Amherst, the Commonwealth is able to greatly expand on its collective efforts in reaching net zero by 2050,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “UMass Amherst’s solar canopy and battery storage system projects will reduce the University’s carbon footprint while also simultaneously providing an opportunity to display these climate solutions in an educational environment.”

This UMass Amherst solar canopy and battery storage project will generate approximately 4,548,712 kWh of electricity per year. With the assistance of the Leading by Example grant, the solar canopy is estimated to provide UMass Amherst with over $341,000 in average annual benefits; over twenty years, the University will receive an estimated $6.8 million in project benefits from the combination of reduced energy costs and revenue generation. Besides adding to the over 28 MW of solar PV currently installed at state facilities, the installation includes two new electric vehicle charging stations with pre-wiring for eight more.  

“Climate action is about good planning, strong partnerships, balanced policy and deploying innovative solutions that can be replicated throughout all 351 of our cities and towns,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “The solar canopy and battery storage system at UMass Amherst is a terrific example of a state institution piloting a climate solution that will help to reduce emissions, save money and create clean energy jobs right here in Massachusetts.”

“We are deeply grateful to the commitment of the Baker-Polito administration for their investment in our clean energy technologies,” said UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy. “These state-funded initiatives play a critical role as we move to fully convert campus operations to renewable energy. We will continue to do all we can to partner with the commonwealth as it works to achieve net zero carbon emissions.”

Today’s event also highlighted the installation of an energy storage unit completed in 2019, which received funding through MassCEC’s ACES Program. The energy storage project features a 1MW lithium ion battery located adjacent to the UMass Amherst Central Heating Plant. The battery supports the campus to effectively use the renewable energy generated onsite while also providing resiliency and peak demand management.

“The Leading by Example Program at DOER continues to support innovative clean energy and energy efficiency projects for state facilities like the solar canopy and battery storage installation at UMass Amherst,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Patrick Woodcock. “This project showcases the types of partnership needed to reach the Commonwealth’s ambitious greenhouse gas reductions throughout our state facilities and our broader economy.”

“Energy storage is a crucial component of our clean energy transition. Programs like ACES helped to catalyze the energy storage market in Massachusetts by demonstrating the economic and reliability benefits of large-scale battery storage systems,” said MassCEC CEO Jennifer Daloisio. “Partnerships like this one with UMass Amherst provide us with models that can be replicated statewide to achieve our ambitious climate goals.”

DOER’s Leading by Example Program works collaboratively with state agencies and public colleges and universities to advance clean energy and sustainable practices that reduce the environmental impacts of state government operations. The agency’s Leading by Example Clean Energy Solar Grant Program for state entities has helped to increase the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at state facilities, particularly solar canopies and innovative solar technologies, by ensuring that these projects are cost-effective. Since 2014, $7,395,780 in LBE solar grants have supported the installation of 19 MW of solar at state facilities, leading to an estimated $40 million in electricity cost savings over 20 years. These projects are expected to generate approximately 21.8 million kWh of clean energy annually, equivalent to the electricity use of 2,808 Massachusetts homes. Through the grant program requirements, over 100 electric vehicle charging ports have also been installed. The program is funded by alternative compliance payments.

Additionally, in April 2021, the Baker-Polito Administration signed Executive Order No. 594, which sets goals and requirements that will accelerate the decarbonization of fuels used to heat and cool state facilities, help to demonstrate new technologies and strategies necessary to meet the Commonwealth’s energy goals, and quicken the shift to electric heating and vehicles. By leading by example in these and other areas, state government can help guide the Commonwealth toward a cleaner future. As part of Leading by Example efforts, state entities have collectively reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 35%, reduced heating oil use by 85%, eliminating more than 22 million gallons of fuel oil, and reduced energy use per square foot by 14% from a 2004 baseline. As of March 2022, state entities have installed 288 electric vehicle charging stations, deployed more than 29 MW of solar PV, created 42 new pollinator-friendly habitats, and constructed 95 LEED Certified buildings, two-thirds of which achieved a Gold or Platinum rating. For more information on LBE, please visit the LBE website.

The Baker-Polito Administration continues to advance legislation that will further support the Clean Energy Industry sector. Last week, Governor Baker filed “An Act Investing in Future Opportunities for Resiliency, Workforce, and Revitalized Downtowns (FORWARD), which includes $1.2 billion in ARPA funds for climate resiliency and preservation efforts. The FORWARD Act includes a $750 million investment in the Commonwealth’s clean energy industry, building on Governor Baker’s October 2021 proposal, which makes funds available to support innovation, research and development, and job training in the clean energy sector.