Massachusetts’ new renewables standard includes hydro

A new renewables portfolio standard for the state of Massachusetts includes hydropower and hydrokinetic energy as eligible resources.

The RPS, included in the Green Communities Act, requires utilities and other electricity suppliers to draw on new renewables for 4 percent of electricity sales in 2009. The amount would increase 1 percent each year, reaching 15 percent by 2020, 25 percent by 2030, and more thereafter.

Sources the law considers to be eligible are new renewable generating sources, or incremental increases in generating capacity at existing facilities, that began commercial operation after Dec. 31, 1997. Eligible renewables includes ocean wave, tidal energy, in-stream, and some hydroelectric.

Eligible hydro facilities are capped at a maximum of 25 MW for new plants, or a maximum of a 25-MW incremental increase at existing hydro plants. Facilities also must meet �low-impact� standards as established by the state. Energy generated from pumped storage of water is not eligible.

Gov. Deval Patrick signed the legislation into law July 2.

The law requires utility companies to enter into 10- to 15-year contracts with clean energy technology developers to help them obtain financing to build their projects. The agreements will target Massachusetts-based projects, the governor’s office said.

Additionally, a Green Communities program created by the law offers technical and financial assistance to municipalities that make a commitment to renewable energy and efficiency. The program is to receive $10 million from various sources, such as a renewable energy trust fund, alternative compliance payments generated by the RPS, and emissions allowance trading programs.

The law permits municipalities to design, install, own, and operate small municipal renewable energy generating facilities, sell electricity generated from such facilities, and sell marketable products such as electronic certificates created to represent generation attributes.

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