Renewable Energy

The Boxford Community Electricity program presents a unique opportunity for the Town to influence the development of renewable energy resources by going above and beyond the requirements in Massachusetts – this means voluntarily purchasing additional renewable energy. See the State’s renewable energy requirements.

In Boxford Community Electricity, all purchases of renewable electricity will be certified by purchasing and retiring Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), the accepted legal instrument used to track renewable energy generation and to substantiate claims of renewable energy use. Read more about why we need RECs.

Sourcing the Additional Renewable Energy

On Our Grid

All of the additional renewable energy in the Boxford Community Electricity program will come from sources designated as MA Class I. These sources must be physically part of our New England electricity grid. This stands in contrast to some electricity supplies that obtain their renewable energy from national sources (e.g. Texas) that are not physically connected to our New England electricity grid. While those sources provide very cheap electricity, you get what you pay for: including them in the electricity mix does not move our region away from fossil fuels.

MA Class I is the State of Massachusetts’ term for new, local renewable energy. The renewable energy can come from the sources shown in the figure below and it must:

  • Have started operation after 1997
  • Be located within New England, New York or Eastern Canada
2018 Sources of MA Class I for RPS Compliance
Source: 2018 Annual Compliance Report, MA Department of Energy Resources

Helping Expand Renewable Energy

Massachusetts requires all energy suppliers to include a minimum amount of MA Class I renewable energy, and that amount that increases annually. This policy, called the Renewable Portfolio Standard, provides growing demand for renewable energy and, as a result, has been the primary driver of the growth of renewable energy in our region. 

By purchasing a significant quantity of extra MA Class I renewable energy, Boxford will increase demand further and incentivize even more renewable energy generation development in New England. 

Recent estimates suggest that fully 10% of renewable energy purchased in the MA Class I REC market will soon be voluntarily purchased by municipal aggregations, going above and beyond state requirements, like Boxford.

What Are RECs and Why We Need Them 

When electricity generated by renewable sources – such as solar and wind – is put onto our regional electricity grid, it becomes mixed in with and indistinguishable from the other electricity on the grid. It is not possible to physically separate out renewable electricity from the grid mix for your individual consumption. 

As a result, a tracking system, called Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), has been created to enable the purchase and use of renewable electricity. For every one megawatt-hour of renewable electricity generated, one REC is created. In order to use renewable electricity, one must purchase a quantity of RECs equal to the amount of electricity purchased from the grid. Once used, a REC is retired so that no one else can purchase that same REC or claim to use it.