ATTENTION! The Massachusetts Farm Energy Program has moved to the Center for EcoTechnology in Florence, MA. For assistance, please call 413-727-3090 or write Nancy Nylen at info@massfarmenergy.com.


Massachusetts Farm Energy Program

Immediate Assistance: Existing Energy Programs

View or download a one page summary document "Mass Farm Energy Program Services for Farmers"

 

Farm Energy Discount Program - 10% Agricultural Discount

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) is the state agency responsible for determining and certifying eligibility for the Farm Energy Discount Program included in the legislation enacted to restructure the utility industry. As a result of utility restructuring, all agricultural ratepayers will enjoy a mandated 10% reduction on their energy bills for electricity and natural gas. Persons or corporations that are principally and substantially engaged in the business of production agriculture or farming for an ultimate commercial purpose are eligible.

Upon determination that the applicant qualifies for the Farm Discount, MDAR will certify to the appropriate power supplier that the applicant meets the requirements for the Farm Discount. Participation will automatically renew unless there is a change to accounts. The discount is not available for propane or fuel oil accounts.

A two-page application is available at http://www.mass.gov/agr/admin/farmenergy.htm or contact Linda Demirjian, Office Manager, MDAR, at (6l7) 626-1733.

Back to top

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR)

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) offers support for farms interested in energy efficiency, conservation, and renewables. The primary function of the coordinator is to promote energy knowledge and awareness and to facilitate the implementation of energy related projects for our agri-businesses as a means to reduce energy costs and environmental pollution. Numerous resources are available to assist you in obtaining technical and financial support for your farm. More information and technical resources are available at http://www.mass.gov/agr/programs/energy/index.htm.

MDAR occasionally offers energy related grant opportunities, specifically the Ag-Energy Grant Program, with proposals due April 30th this year.

To discuss the technical aspects of your proposed energy project, please contact Gerry Palano, MDAR Renewable Energy Coordinator and MFEP partner at (617)-626-1706 or Gerald.Palano@state.ma.us.

Back to top

Department of Public Utilities (DPU) Net Metering

Net metering encourages homeowners, businesses, and municipalities to install solar panels and wind turbines, and farm energy technologies such as anaerobic digesters, by allowing them to earn credit on their electric bills if they generate more power than they need. Under the Green Communities Act signed by Governor Patrick in 2008, utility companies must compensate their customers for this excess electricity at the retail rate rather than the lower wholesale rate. Customers may allocate their credits to other customers, allowing those without facilities to take advantage of net metering benefits as well.

Net metering for wind, solar and agricultural energy installations, a provision of the Green Communities Act designed to encourage development of renewable power, commenced on December 1, 2009, under an order adopted by the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) on November 13, 2009. The Green Communities Act includes provisions for Agricultural Net Metering facilities whereby farms are able to install additional electrical renewable technologies besides wind and solar.

Prior to the Green Communities Act, net metering was restricted to on-site renewable energy projects capable of generating 60 kilowatts or less, and customers were able to sell their power back to the grid only at the wholesale rate. Currently, customers who own larger wind turbines or solar power installations - up to 2 megawatts, and even larger for municipal and state installations - can trade excess power back to the grid at the higher retail rate. Even customers who do not generate excess power will save money on their electric bills by generating some portion of the electricity they use.

To view the DPU's final net metering order, click here

To find out how you can apply for net metering contact your local eligible utility (NGRID, NSTAR, WMECO or UNITIL) in coordination with your renewable energy project contractor.

Back to top

Non-Municipal, Investor-owned ("Public") Utility Conservation & Energy Efficiency Programs

There are four investor-owned electric utility companies in Massachusetts: National Grid, NSTAR, UNITIL (Fitchburg Gas & Electric), and Western Massachusetts Electric Company. In addition, Cape Light Compact operates the regional energy efficiency program for the Cape and islands. Natural gas companies include Berkshire Gas, Bay State Gas, National Grid (formerly Keyspan Gas), and NSTAR.

Customers of these investor-owned ("public") utility companies pay into conservation and renewable energy funds and therefore have access to energy conservation programs, as well as the renewable energy programs offered by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. These "public" conservation and energy efficiency programs are regulated by the MA Department of Public Utilities. Typically, energy audits and some types of energy assessment, performed by a contractor or employee of the utility company, are offered as well as financial incentives (cost-share) on energy efficiency measures that are cost effective relative to energy savings. In simple terms, the energy cost savings divided by the investment costs must be greater than one. However, there may be some energy efficiency measures that would be of great benefit to agricultural operations but do not meet the cost effectiveness formula used by the public utility industry.

Investor-owned Utility Contact Information:

Cape Light Compact
To request an energy audit for your farming operation, contact contact Nicole Price, Superior Court House, PO Box 427, Barnstable, MA 02630, nprice@capelightcompact.org 508-375-6886, fax 508-362-4136
Columbia Gas of Massachusetts 
To request an energy audit for your farming operation, contact Terry Avedisian, Commercial and Industrial Division, 300 Friberg Parkway, Westborough  MA 01581, tavedisian@nisource.com, 508-836-7388.
 
Berkshire Gas
To request an energy audit for your farming operation, contact Robert Gyurjan, 115 Cheshire Rd., Pittsfield, MA 01201, rgyurjan@berkshiregas.com, 413-445-0345
National Grid
To request an energy audit for your farming operation, contact Richard Drury, 40 Sylvan Rd., Waltham MA 02451, richardadrury@gmail.com 
 
NSTAR Electric & Gas
To request an electric energy audit for your farming operation, contact Augustine Pimentel, One NSTAR Way, SW 360, Westwood MA 02090, augustine.pimentel@nstar.com, 781-441-8705 or 339-987-7568
To get information about incentives on installing gas equipment contact Paul Degnan, Paul.Degnan@NSTAR.com, 781-441-8997
Fitchburg Gas & Electric/UNITIL
To request an energy audit for your farming operation, contact Ed Mailloux, 6 Liberty Lane W., Hampton NH 03842, mailloux@unitil.com, 603-773-6541
Western MA Electric Co (WMECO)
To request an energy audit for lighting or refrigeration contact Kim Kiernan at the Small Business Program, kiernk@nu.com, 413-787-9275. For custom audits for other types of energy efficiency upgrades contact Jim Rutherford at the Custom Commercial Program, ruthejk@nu.com.

Back to top

Municipal Utilities

Many farmers fall through the cracks of the commercial energy conservation programs for various reasons. Customers that are serviced by the forty municipal electric, and in some cases gas, utility departments typically do not pay into conservation or renewable energy funds. Municipal customers therefore do not have access to energy conservation programs offered by the utility industry. However, because some municipal utility companies have developed fee for service audit programs, it is important to contact your individual municipal utility company to see if other options are available. Many renewable energy projects are funded through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) programs (see below) which are typically not available to municipal customers. However, some municipal electric communities have entered into an agreement with the MassCEC. To determine if your municipal utility has an agreement with the MassCEC, click here.

Back to top

Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC)

The Green Jobs Act of 2008 created the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) to accelerate job growth and economic development in the state’s clean energy industry. The Renewable Energy Generation division of MassCEC is responsible for supporting renewable energy projects throughout the Commonwealth.

MassCEC has awarded funds to hundreds of businesses, towns, and non-profits for feasibility and/or design and construction of solar panels, wind turbines, biomass systems, hydroelectric systems, and other clean energy systems. Contact MassCEC to learn about current programs like Commonwealth Wind and Commonwealth Solar at www.masscec.com or call (617)315-9355.

Solar thermal (hot water) Construction Rebates for Commercial Operations

The Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Commercial Program is currently accepting construction rebate applications. Applications will continue to be accepted until funds are expended. Solar thermal can be applied to dairy operations, process heating, and greenhouse heating.  Learn more about the Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Commercial program at www.masscec.com.

Back to top

Business Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)

The federal business energy investment tax credit available under 26 USC 48 was expanded significantly by the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 (H.R. 1424), enacted in October 2008. This law extended the duration -- by eight years -- of the existing credits for solar energy, fuel cells and microturbines; increased the credit amount for fuel cells; established new credits for small wind-energy systems, geothermal heat pumps, and combined heat and power (CHP) systems; extended eligibility for the credits to utilities; and allowed taxpayers to take the credit against the alternative minimum tax (AMT), subject to certain limitations. The credit was further expanded by The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, enacted in February 2009. In general, credits are available for eligible systems placed in service on or before December 31, 2016.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocated funds for the U.S. Department of the Treasury to make payments to eligible persons who put in service eligible property and who apply for the payments. By accepting payments, eligible individuals are choosing to forgo tax credits for the qualified property in subsequent years.

The following chart lists the Credit Termination Date and the applicable percentage of eligible cost basis used in computing the payment for each specified energy property.

Specified Energy Property Credit Termination Date Applicable Percentage of Eligible Cost Basis
Large Wind Jan 1, 2013 30%
Closed Loop Biomass Facility Jan 1, 2014 30%
Open Loop Biomass Facility Jan 1, 2014 30%
Geothermal under IRC sec. 45 Jan 1, 2014 30%
Solar Jan 1, 2017 30%
Geothermal under IRC sec. 48 Jan 1, 2017 10%
Microturbines Jan 1, 2017 10%
Combined Heat & Power Jan 1, 2017 10%
Small Wind Jan 1, 2017 30%
Geothermal Heat Pumps Jan 1, 2017 10%

 

Back to top

USDA-Rural Development's (RD) Section 9007: Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)

The Section 9007 of the 2008 Farm Bill provides funding for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. Rural Development administers these funds and offers grants, guaranteed loans, or a combination to farmers and rural small businesses. The Massachusetts Farm Energy Program, through Berkshire-Pioneer RC&D in cooperation with Rural Development offers informational sessions and grant writing assistance to farmers and forest products businesses for applying to this program. Due to RD funding priorities and competition for funds, MFEP grant-writing services will be limited to farm-related energy projects for grants $20,000 or less, and possibly a limited number of projects for grants greater than $20,000 or guaranteed loans. The annual application deadline is generally in the spring.

Grant requests must not exceed 25% of the eligible project costs. RD renewable energy grants can range from $2,500 to $500,000, and can be combined with CEC grants (see above). Energy efficiency grants can range from $1,500 to $250,000, and may be combined with public utility incentive programs and MA Farm Energy Program incentives. Guaranteed loans can be made up to 75% of the project to a maximum of $25 million, or a combination of 25% grant and up to 50% guaranteed loan. Projects under $200,000 qualify for a simplified application process. You can learn more about the programs at this link.

Please note that the energy generated or saved by the 9007 program cannot be for residential use. The estimated cost of installing an electrical meter to separate farm use from residential use would be an eligible project expense. Information to determine eligibility can be found here. If you still have questions about eligibility, level of energy assessment, or environmental review requirements, contact your local Rural Development Area Office. This process may be lengthy so RD will advise you on how to get the environmental review started.

The Berkshire-Pioneer RC&D also offers assistance to complete the REAP application. (In 2008, the MFEP assisted seven applicants and all were funded. In 2009, the MFEP assisted thirteen applicants, seven were funded.) Energy Efficiency projects require an energy assessment or an energy audit thus additional time and professional services must be planned for. In addition, MFEP strongly encourages producers to plan for and prepare much of the application during the slowest farm season because it is a commitment of time. The MFEP offers technical assistance and financial assistance for energy audits but you must apply for an audit prior to the REAP application announcement in order to prepare technical documents that meet REAP requirements.

Contact Information for USDA/Rural Development:

To inquire about energy efficiency & renewable energy projects for your farming operation, contact the following USDA-RD staff:

Serving Western Massachusetts
Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden Counties
Michael Rendulic, Area Director
Phone: 413-585-1000
Fax: 413-586-8648
Email: michael.rendulic@ma.usda.gov

Serving Central Massachusetts and North Shore
Worcester, Middlesex, Suffolk, and Essex Counties
Lyndon S. Nichols, Area Director
Phone: 508-829-4477 Ext. 4
Fax: 508-829-3721
Email: lyndon.nichols@ma.usda.gov

Serving South Eastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands
Bristol, Norfolk, Plymouth, Dukes, Nantucket and Barnstable Counties
Thomas S. McGarr, Area Director
Phone: 508-295-5151 Ext. 3
Fax: 508-291-2368
Email: tom.mcgarr@ma.usda.gov

 

Solar Renewable Energy Credits

The Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has carved-out a portion of the RPS Class I Renewable Energy requirement to support distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) energy facilities, as provided by the Green Communities Act of 2008.  The RPS Solar Carve Out is a market based incentive program to support residential, public, and non-profit entities in developing solar photovoltaic (PV) across the state.

SREC’s represent the positive environmental attribute associated with solar production. One SREC is created each time a solar PV system generates 1000kWh of electricity. It is then deposited quarterly in the generators (or it’s aggregators) account based on meter readings. Generators can also sell them to voluntary markets or “retire” their credits as a means of voluntarily supporting solar power.

To be eligible to participate in the RPS Solar Carve Out, PV generation units must meet the following criteria:
• Have a capacity of 6 MW or less per parcel of land
• Be located in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which includes municipal light district territories
• Have some of its generation on-site and be interconnected to the utility grid
• Have a commercial operation date of Jan. 1, 2008 or later

However, projects that received funding from programs administered by the MassCEC or MRET prior to January 1, 2010, and those that received substantial funding (over 67% of total installed cost) from ARRA federal stimulus programs are NOT ELIGIBLE.

Please contact DOER for more information:
Massachusetts Solar Carve-Out Information
Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER)
100 Cambridge St., Suite 1020
Boston, MA 02114
E-Mail: DOER.SREC@State.MA.US
Web Site: http://www.mass.gov/energy/rps

Back to top