Municipal Utilities Support State Initiatives, Integrating Emerging Technologies
BOSTON — Massachusetts municipal utilities are leading the way in integrating carbon-free technologies into their power portfolios, contributing significantly to achievement of the Commonwealth’s energy goals, according to speakers at a State House event sponsored by the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC), the joint action agency for Massachusetts municipal utilities.
Approximately 14% of electric consumers in the state are served by municipal light plants (MLPs), a valuable part of the electric utility industry that deliver low-cost, reliable electric service to consumers. MLPs are non-profit and owned by the people they serve. Locally appointed or elected boards of commissioners maintain decision-making authority for each light department.
MMWEC Chief Executive Officer Ronald C. DeCurzio outlined the clean energy projects included in the MLP portfolios, dating back to the 1984 construction of a 40-kilowatt wind project built by the Princeton municipal utility.
“Municipal utilities have been at the forefront of the carbon-free energy movement for some time,” DeCurzio said. “MLPs have recognized trends and implemented emerging technologies in an efficient, economic manner in the best interest of their customers.”
In just a few weeks, a new municipal utility wind project will commence commercial operation. Phase Two of the Berkshire Wind Power Project in Hancock, MA will add 4.6 megawatts (MW) to the existing 15-MW wind farm. The project, the second largest wind farm in Massachusetts, is owned by a cooperative consisting of 16 municipal utilities and MMWEC.
By the end of 2019, MMWEC member utilities will have 67.8 MW of wind generation, 48 MW of solar and 26.2 MW of energy storage – nearly 15% of the 2020 target of 200 MW of storage in place in Massachusetts. Three of MMWEC’s members utilized a total of $1.64 million in grants through the Advancing Commonwealth Energy Storage (ACES) initiative, a coordinated effort between the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the state Department of Energy Resources, to fund their energy storage projects. A fourth municipal utility took advantage of declining energy storage costs to install an energy storage system without the help of state grants or federal tax incentives, a first amongst municipal utilities in Massachusetts.