Cape Light Compact’s Power Supply Program Provides New Options for Supporting Local Renewable Power
This February, Cape Light Compact launched a new program, CLC Local Green℠, that provides Power Supply Program customers with two choices for supporting locally-generated renewable power. Customers that choose to participate can opt-in to have an additional 50% or 100% of their annual electricity usage matched with Massachusetts Class I Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), sourced from clean energy generated right here in New England. Let’s dive in to explore more on how CLC Local Green builds upon the Compact’s existing Power Supply Program.
What are RECs and how do they fit into the Compact’s Power Supply Program?
Since 2002, the Compact has operated its Power Supply Program. Through this program, the Compact aggregates the annual electricity load of participating customers, and then solicits bids from suppliers to meet this energy demand. This process allows the Compact to secure competitively-priced electricity for its customers through six-month contracts, often at a lower rate than that offered by the Cape and Vineyard’s local utility.
In addition, since 2017, the Compact has ensured that 100% of the energy used by its Power Supply Program customers comes from renewable sources. The Compact achieves this by working with its power supplier, NextEra® Energy Services, to match 100% of this electricity with Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). Since there is no way to distinguish renewable versus non-renewable energy at the point of use, these RECs provide a mechanism to track renewable energy at the point of production.
One REC is generated for every 1,000-kilowatt hours of renewable energy produced by qualified renewable energy facilities in the United States, with the generating facility having the choice to keep or sell the REC. Like many states, Massachusetts has its own REC classifications. Class I RECs are associated with energy generated by qualifying renewable power facilities in New England. The state also has its own Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) that requires electric suppliers to match a percentage of supplied power with RECs. This required percentage grows each year. In the case of the Compact’s standard green aggregation Power Supply Program, NextEra purchases 1% more Class 1 RECs than is required by the RPS, as well as purchases enough additional RECs to match the annual energy use of all program participants.
What makes the CLC Local Green power supply option special?
The CLC Local Green program provides Power Supply Program customers with an opportunity to support the growth of local renewable energy generation. Participants can opt to have either an additional 50% or 100% of their annual energy use matched with Massachusetts Class I RECs, which are earned only for renewable energy generated in New England. To offer more insight, Austin Brandt, Senior Power Supply Planner at the Compact, helps explain CLC Local Green and its benefits.
When asked about the motivation for starting this new program, Brandt explains that many of the Compact’s customers were interested in specifically supporting locally-generated clean energy. This has been a growing trend across New England, where other green aggregators like the Compact have begun similar programs.
While its recent launch means participation data is not yet available, Brandt believes that one of the program’s top appeals will be that it offers a convenient mechanism for supporting clean energy: “There are many environmentally-focused customers who want to do more to support renewable energy, but don’t have a residence well-suited for renewable energy, such as rooftop solar. One of the main appeals of this program is that it gives them an easy way to still support local renewables.”
Customers who decide to participate in CLC Local Green will play an important role in advancing renewable energy production across New England. Brandt explains the economics behind this phenomenon: “When customers support the purchase and retirement of RECs, they are creating the need for more renewables to come online to meet that demand. They are also driving up REC market prices by creating a tighter market, in turn making RECs more valuable. These higher REC prices motivate renewable energy project developers to build more renewable energy projects, knowing that they can help finance them with REC purchase contracts.” In the near-term, many RECs for CLC Local Green will come from nearby solar projects on Cape Cod, whereas offshore wind may account for a larger number of these RECs in the future.
However, one of the top questions customers have is how the program would affect their electric bills. With average monthly energy use among Compact residential customers being around 550 kWh, the decision to opt-into the CLC Local Green with a 50% match equates to only around $7 more per month, whereas the 100% match equates to approximately $15 more per month. The Compact provides an online tool for customers to more accurately estimate the electricity costs they’d face under each program option depending on their average monthly usage.
For those that want to enroll, the process is easy, and it’s open to any resident, commercial entity, or industrial facility on the Cape or Vineyard that has an Eversource electric account. Current Power Supply customers can simply contact the Compact by calling 1-800-381-9192 to opt-in. Those who are not current Power Supply Program customers can simultaneously enroll in the program and CLC Local Green by calling the same number or by signing up online through NextEra’s web portal.
Through this new green aggregation program, Compact customers have an exciting opportunity to support a more stable, localized clean energy supply across New England. As Brandt summarizes, “It’s always better to produce energy closer to where it’s being used, and this program is helping add to our local power production here in New England.”
If you’re interested in learning more, check out the Compact’s CLC Local Green webpage.