As part of the Bay State’s Green Communities Act, investor-owned utilities must solicit bids for 10-15 year renewable energy production contracts at least twice in the next four years. The first round of solicitations–for 750,000 MWh–is being organized by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER). The state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requires electricity suppliers to include a minimum percentage of renewable power in their energy portfolios each year:
Set at 5 percent in 2010, the minimum benchmark increases by 1 percent annually under the Green Communities Act. Both the RPS and the new requirement for long-term contracting are meant to provide certainty for clean energy developers and help them obtain the financing needed to build successful projects. (DOER Press Release)
Eligible renewable energy technologies are those with Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)–so, solar energy systems are most definitely included. The state’s new Solar Credit Market gets its backbone from a solar carve-out in the state’s RPS. That is, within the percentage of a utility’s energy portfolio that must come from renewable sources, a specific percentage of that must come from solar power only. Massachusetts solar installations, which were on hiatus for a few months last year as the state tried to figure out how to re-fund its solar rebate program, are expected to boom this year as a result.