RENEWABLE ENERGY: THE CLEAN FACTS

Wind and sun oriented are controlling a perfect energy transformation. This is what you need to think about renewables and how you can help have an effect at home.
Solar Energy
Solar Energy
Sun powered, or photovoltaic (PV), cells are produced using silicon or different materials that change daylight straightforwardly into power. Disseminated galaxies create power locally for homes and organizations, either through roof boards or local area projects that power whole areas. Sun based ranches can produce power for a large number of homes, utilizing mirrors to think daylight across sections of land of sunlight based cells. Drifting sun based homesteads or "floatovoltaics" can be a successful utilization of wastewater offices and waterways that aren't naturally touchy. Sunlight based supplies somewhat more than 1% of U.S. power age. However, almost 33% of all new creating limit came from sun powered in 2017, second just to petroleum gas. Sun oriented energy frameworks don't create air toxins or ozone depleting substances, and as long as they are dependably sited, most sunlight based boards have not many natural effects past the assembling interaction.
Wind Energy
Wind Energy
We've made considerable progress from older style wind plants. Today, turbines as tall as high rises with turbines almost as wide in measurement prepare for action all throughout the planet. Wind energy turns a turbine's sharp edges, which takes care of an electric generator and produces power. Wind, which represents somewhat more than 6% of U.S. age, has become the least expensive fuel source in numerous pieces of the country. Top breeze power states incorporate California, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Iowa, however turbines can be put anyplace with high wind rates like ridges and open fields or even seaward in untamed water.
Hydroelectric Power
Hydroelectric Power
Hydropower is the biggest sustainable power hotspot for power in the United States, however wind energy is before long expected to assume control over the lead. Hydropower depends on water commonly quick water in an enormous waterway or quickly diving water from a high point and converts the power of that water into power by turning a generator's turbine sharp edges. Broadly and globally, huge hydroelectric plants or super dams are frequently viewed as nonrenewable energy. Uber dams redirect and decrease common streams, confining access for creature and human populaces that depend on waterways. Little hydroelectric plants (an introduced limit underneath around 40 megawatts), painstakingly oversaw, don't will in general reason as much natural harm, as they redirect just a negligible portion of stream.
Biomass Energy
Biomass Energy
Biomass is natural material that comes from plants and creatures, and incorporates crops, squander wood, and trees. At the point when biomass is singed, the compound energy is delivered as warmth and can create power with a steam turbine. Biomass is frequently erroneously portrayed as a spotless, inexhaustible fuel and a greener choice to coal and other non-renewable energy sources for creating power. In any case, late science shows that numerous types of biomass particularly from backwoods produce higher fossil fuel byproducts than petroleum derivatives. There are additionally unfortunate results for biodiversity. All things considered, a few types of biomass energy could fill in as a low-carbon alternative under the right conditions. For instance, sawdust and chips from sawmills that would some way or another rapidly deteriorate and discharge carbon can be a low-carbon fuel source.
Geothermal Energy
Geothermal Energy
In the event that you've at any point loose in an underground aquifer, you've utilized geothermal energy. The world's center is probably just about as warm as the sun's surface, because of the sluggish rot of radioactive particles in rocks at the focal point of the planet. Penetrating profound wells carries hot underground water to the surface as an aqueous asset, which is then siphoned through a turbine to make power. Geothermal plants commonly have low emanations on the off chance that they siphon the steam and water they use once more into the supply. There are approaches to make geothermal plants where there are not underground supplies, but rather there are worries that they may build the danger of a seismic tremor in regions previously viewed as topographical problem areas.
Nuclear
Nuclear
Atomic force, the utilization of supported atomic parting to create warmth and power, contributes almost 20% of the power produced in America. The United States has utilized atomic force for over 60 years to create solid, low-carbon energy and to help public protection exercises. The Energy Department's Office of Nuclear Energy's essential mission is to progress atomic force as an asset fit for making significant commitments in gathering our country's energy supply, ecological, and energy security needs. By zeroing in on the improvement of cutting edge atomic advances, NE upholds the Administration's objectives of giving homegrown wellsprings of secure energy, lessening ozone depleting substances, and upgrading public safety. Atomic force stays a significant piece of our country's energy portfolio, as we endeavor to diminish fossil fuel byproducts and address the danger of worldwide environmental change.
Bioenergy
Bioenergy
Biomass is a natural environmentally friendly power source that incorporates materials like farming and timberland buildups, energy yields, and green growth. Researchers and architects at the Energy Department and National Laboratories are discovering new, more productive approaches to change over biomass into biofuels that can replace ordinary fills like gas, diesel, and fly fuel. Bioenergy can help guarantee a monetarily strong and secure future while decreasing natural effects through: 1.Developing moderate homegrown fills and co-items 2. Propelling clean fuel sources 3.Generating homegrown responsibilities to help the development of the U.S. bioeconomy. Innovative work to change inexhaustible carbon and waste assets into feedstocks for transformation to biofuels, bioproducts, and bio power will reasonably grow biomass asset potential in the United States.
Hydrogen and Fuel Cells
Hydrogen and Fuel Cells
The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) centers around exploration, advancement, and exhibit of hydrogen and power module advances across various areas empowering development, a solid homegrown economy, and a perfect, evenhanded energy future. Hydrogen is the least difficult and most bountiful component known to man. It is found inside water, petroleum derivatives, and all living matter, yet it seldom exists as a gas on Earth—it should be isolated from different components. There are different homegrown assets that can be utilized to deliver hydrogen, including renewables (wind, sun oriented, hydropower, biomass, and geothermal energy), atomic force, and petroleum products (like flammable gas and coal – with carbon catch and sequestration). The U.S. at present creates in excess of 10 million metric huge loads of hydrogen each year, around one-seventh of the worldwide inventory.

Boston’s new CCA program: how does it compare with community solar?

Reading Time: 5 minutes Earlier this year, Boston rolled out their new community choice electricity (CCE) program, the largest community choice aggregation (CCA), or municipal aggregation, initiative in New England. Given the availability of local community solar projects in the Greater Boston area–and given that Boston is EnergySage’s home city!–we get a lot of questions about how some of […]

Reading Time: 5 minutes Earlier this year, Boston rolled out their new community choice electricity (CCE) program, the largest community choice aggregation (CCA), or municipal aggregation, initiative in New England. Given the availability of local community solar projects in the Greater Boston area–and given that Boston is EnergySage’s home city!–we get a lot of questions about how some of […]Reading Time: 5 minutes

Earlier this year, Boston rolled out their new community choice electricity (CCE) program, the largest community choice aggregation (CCA), or municipal aggregation, initiative in New England. Given the availability of local community solar projects in the Greater Boston area–and given that Boston is EnergySage’s home city!–we get a lot of questions about how some of these subscription options compare to this new program. In this article, we’ll discuss the major differences and similarities between the two options.

See community solar options in your area in 2021

Key takeaways


  • You can save 5-15 percent off your annual electricity costs with a community solar subscription; savings under Boston’s CCE program are not guaranteed
  • You don’t have to choose between the CCE program and community solar – you can take advantage of both!
  • Finding and subscribing to local community solar options is easy using EnergySage’s Community Solar Marketplace

Comparing community solar to Boston’s CCE program

If you’re an Eversource customer in Boston, community solar and the CCE program both present opportunities to support local renewable energy. But there are a few key differences between the two alternative energy options: 

Community solar vs. Boston’s CCE program, summarized

Alternative energy optionCommunity solar Boston's CCE program
Generates savingsYesSometimes
Supports local renewable energyYesYes
Has consolidated billing Typically noYes
Includes environmental claim/"green" benefitNoYes

Savings

The majority of community solar projects in the Boston area offer a fixed discount on bill credits. This means when you subscribe to a local community solar project, you’ll lock in a fixed discount on energy you buy from the project, regardless of the current price of electricity. Community solar companies typically offer around 10 percent discount on bill credits, so if your share of the project generates $100 worth of electricity, you’ll pay your community solar provider $90 – but receive a $100 credit on your Eversource bill! While savings will vary from month to month, you should expect to save 5-15% on your annual electricity bill costs.

Savings under Boston’s CCE program are less likely, but still possible depending on the rate you opt-into and what Eversource is currently charging for supply. Generally speaking, municipal aggregation programs can offer competitive rates thanks to the aggregate buying power of all the participants. For Boston’s CCE program specifically, the Optional Basic rate and Standard Default rate plans (more on the plan offerings below!) are less expensive than Eversources’s standard residential rates as of June 2021, but because electricity rates fluctuate based on supply and demand, this may change over time. Additionally, the current savings over Eversource’s rates are smaller than what community solar subscriptions typically offer.

Importantly, if you’re opting into the CCE’s 100% renewable option–the Optional Green 100 rate plan–you should generally expect to pay more for electricity than what Eversource charges. This is pretty common among CCE plans – all-renewable options typically come at a price premium, but may be worth it if your primary motivation for joining a CCE program is the environmental benefit.

All this is to say that most community solar subscriptions offer guaranteed savings, while savings under the CCE program, though possible in some circumstances, won’t be as significant and will fluctuate over time. Fortunately, the City of Boston offers a helpful electricity cost calculator where you can enter in your average monthly electric bill costs and compare rates across Boston’s CCE options, as well as with Eversource’s rates.

Supporting local renewable energy 

Looking to support local renewable energy with your electricity choices? If so, subscribing to a local community solar farm is a great choice. Your subscription can provide the buy-in developers need to build more projects throughout the Boston area that will help further decarbonize Eversource’s electricity grid. As a bonus, you’ll know exactly where your purchased energy comes from – and the company that builds or maintains the project probably employs people in your community!

Boston’s CCE program supports local renewable energy, but in a different way. Wrapped into your electricity purchase is a certain amount of renewable energy certificates (RECs) – more if you opt into the Optional Green 100 rate plan, less if you choose the Optional Basic rate plan. The RECs that you buy as a part of your electricity supply most likely come from existing renewable energy projects – and potentially even a local community solar project! Because of this, your renewable electricity purchase isn’t necessarily supporting additional clean energy development in your area, but rather buying the green benefit of projects that have been generating renewable electricity for years. 

However, unlike with some CCE programs, there is a local energy aspect to Boston’s offering: the bundled RECs you purchase with your electricity are MA Class I Renewable Energy Certificates, meaning the certificates come from a renewable energy project located in New England as opposed to a wind farm located in Texas.

Consolidated billing

Before signing up for any electricity alternative, it’s important to understand how it will impact your monthly billing process: will you still receive a bill from Eversource? Will you receive two bills moving forward? 

Whether you sign up for community solar, Boston’s CCE plan–or both!–you’ll still receive a bill from Eversource: this is because they own and maintain the infrastructure that delivers electricity to your home. Fortunately, you won’t have to deal with two separate electricity bills if you participate in the CCE plan alone – all charges will be rolled up into your existing Eversource bill, and denoted by a separate line item under “Billing for City of Boston CCE,” or “Constellation NewEnergy Inc.”, the company the City of Boston contracted for electricity procurement.

If you subscribe to a community solar farm, however, you’ll likely receive two separate bills: one from your community solar provider charging you for the energy your share of the project generated, and the other from Eversource. That said, your Eversource bill will be lower (and often even have negative charges) because it will include the credits you purchased from the community solar project.

Environmental/”green” benefit

Want to put a lawn sign outside your property that says “100% powered by renewables”? RECs are key to being able to claim you run your home or business on green electricity (we actually have a whole separate explanation about that in this article.)

Because RECs are included in Boston’s CCE plan, you get to claim the environmental benefit associated with your electricity purchase, though you will be purchasing more or less renewable electricity depending on your rate plan:

Boston's CCE plan options (June 2021)

Rate plan % of renewable electricity
Standard (default)28%
Optional Basic 18%
Optional Green 100100%

On the other hand, if you subscribe to a community solar project, it’s unlikely you can claim the “greenness” associated with the electricity generation from the project. While your subscription generally supports local renewable energy development, the owner of the project–either the developer or another investor–typically retains the rights to keep or sell the RECs generated by the project. In fact, the State of Massachusetts warns customers of this in their community solar disclosure forms:

“A Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) represents the Environmental Attributes associated with one megawatt-hour of renewable energy as defined by Massachusetts law. RECs generated by a facility participating in the SMART Program are transferred to the utility company in exchange for the incentive payments made to the facility owner under the program. Therefore, while you are not using the solar power generated by the facility, your purchase of credits does support solar development in Massachusetts and increase the amount of solar energy consumed by all electric ratepayers in the Commonwealth.”

Which alternative electricity option is right for you?

Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between one or the other! Boston electricity customers are some of the lucky few that can take advantage of a CCE/CCA plan and community solar at the same time. 

Here’s how this works: you’ll receive community solar credits on your bill based on how much energy your share of the solar project generated over a given month. Eversource will apply these credits to your monthly electricity charges – which will be based on how much electricity you used from the grid, Eversource’s delivery charges, and your CCE plan’s supply charges.

It’s the best of both worlds: you can use renewable electricity, support local energy efforts, and save money, all at the same time!

Additional resources:

  • Community solar vs. CCAs vs. green power plans: comparing alternative electricity options (EnergySage)
  • What is community choice aggregation? (EnergySage)
  • Common questions about community choice electricity (City of Boston)
  • CCE cost calculator (City of Boston)

Explore local community solar options today

Want to compare community solar options in the Boston area? Check out our Community Solar Marketplace, where you can see a list of local community projects and get a quick estimate of potential savings. If there aren’t community solar projects available in your area just yet, sign up to receive updates as new projects go live on our Marketplace. 

community solar marketplace
See community solar options in your area in 2021

Read full article on What role does renewable energy play in the United States?