Renewable electricity and Community Choice Electricity
The Community Choice Electricity program provides renewable electricity to its customers. The program does this through the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). You can find questions and answers below about how that works.
Renewable electricity questionsRenewable electricity questions
The CCE program buys Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) on behalf of its electric customers. RECs are certificates issued to renewable energy generators. These are based on the amount of renewable electricity they generate and feed into the power grid. When an electric customer buys a REC, they (and only they) are buying the right to that renewable electricity.
Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) create a system of energy accounting. They track who generates renewable electricity and which customers can claim a right to that electricity. RECs solve a fundamental challenge with the power grid. The challenge is that when energy generators feed their electricity into the grid, all the electricity mixes together. It’s impossible to know whether the electricity you receive was originally generated by a dirty or clean energy source. It would be like putting a drop of water in one end of a swimming pool and trying to remove that exact same drop of water from the other end of the pool. It’s not possible.
By introducing a system of energy accounting, RECs overcome this barrier. RECs are not unique to the Community Choice Electricity program. It’s how many electricity suppliers provide renewable electricity to their customers.
In Massachusetts, electric suppliers must provide their customers with a minimum amount of renewable electricity. This state requirement includes the:
- Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), and
- Clean Energy Standard (CES).
Together, these two standards require electric suppliers to provide 49% renewable electricity to their customers.
Renewable electricity can take different forms. Renewable electricity can come from generation sources that vary by:
- the technologies they use
- their age, an
- the amount of carbon they emit.
That is why state law goes into even greater detail about the 49% renewable electricity customers must be provided.
State law requires that 18% of the electricity customers receive come from buying Massachusetts Class I RECs. This type of REC represents the “gold standard” for renewable electricity. Meanwhile, 31% of a customer’s electricity must come from other renewable electricity sources. These include:
- existing clean energy sources
- waste-to-energy sources, and
- sources that qualify for RPS Class II RECs.
Massachusetts Class I RECs certify that the electricity you receive came from an energy generator built after 1997 that uses one of the following technologies:
- Solar photovoltaic
- Solar thermal electricity
- Wind energy
- Small hydro
- Landfill methane and anaerobic digester gas
- Marine or hydrokinetic energy
- Geothermal energy
- Eligible biomass fuel
Massachusetts Class I RECs come from energy generators within New England (MA, CT, RI, NH, ME, VT).
The CCE program satisfies the 49% state requirement for renewable electricity. But, it focuses on the 18% requirement for MA Class I RECs when marketing its three products. We want CCE customers to know that when they sign up for the Optional Green 100 Product, they are getting 100% renewable electricity from MA Class I RECs.
Other electric suppliers may simply state that they satisfy the state minimum of 49% renewable electricity. Be aware that only part of that renewable electricity comes from MA Class I RECs.
The CCE Program’s Standard Product and Optional Green 100 Product surpass the state requirement for renewable electricity by 10% and 82%, respectively. This voluntary renewable electricity comes from buying additional MA Class I RECs. However, these voluntary RECs exclude carbon-emitting energy sources such as:
- Landfill methane
- Anaerobic digestion