BOSTON – Tuesday, March 18, 2014 – The Patrick Administration today announced $1.5 million in funding for energy efficiency programs for customers of municipal light plants (MLP), to expand cost saving and environmental benefits to the 41 communities served by municipal utilities.
“The Patrick Administration is committed to delivering the benefits of clean energy and efficiency to everyone across the Commonwealth,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan. “This program allows residents served by a municipal light plant to enjoy the cost savings and greenhouse gas emissions reductions we’ve seen from Mass Save programs.”
The Green Communities Act of 2008 requires the state’s investor-owned utilities to capture all cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities for their customers before looking to new generation options to meet electricity demand. This requirement does not extend to municipal light plants. The new grant programs will broaden the reach of the Commonwealth’s energy efficiency leadership, offering customers of MLPs similar energy savings and greenhouse gas reduction benefits afforded to customers of investor-owned utilities.
“We are number one in energy efficiency because we have treated it as our first fuel and been aggressive, under Governor Patrick’s leadership, about reducing energy use and emissions,” said Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Commissioner Mark Sylvia. “The grants will help ensure that more Massachusetts residents and businesses can improve their homes and worksites, use less energy, save money, and protect our environment.”
The grant program, funded with proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auction, follows a pilot program launched in 2012 which yielded significant results. The town of Reading, for example, installed 246 residential electric water heaters with smart grid controls to reduce demand on peak days and control costs for all customers by leveraging its own efficiency funds with pilot awards from DOER.
In 2012, savings through utility-administered energy efficiency plans implemented under the statewide Mass Save program were equivalent to the annual electricity usage of nearly 129,000 homes, the annual natural gas usage of almost 24,000 homes, and the annual reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from more than 123,000 cars. Newly-implemented energy efficiency plans for 2013 through 2015 are projected to deliver nearly $9 billion in benefits from an investment of $2.2 billion. The electric savings are projected to reduce retail sales of electricity by 2.6 percent in 2015.
“Energy efficiency is the ultimate win – for both the environment and the economy,” said Senator Benjamin B. Downing, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. “I am thrilled to see our public utilities taking this leadership role and look forward to expanding that role.”
The Patrick Administration’s aggressive clean energy initiatives have made Massachusetts a leader in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and emissions reductions. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has named Massachusetts the number one state for energy efficiency for three years running. This year, Governor Patrick set a new solar goal of 1,600 megawatts of solar capacity by 2020 after reaching the previous goal of 250 megawatts four years early. The clean energy revolution is yielding economic benefits as well, with 11.8 percent job growth in the last year; nearly 80,000 people are employed in the cleantech industry in Massachusetts.