We gave up nothing to do this!! We essentially get FREE money that will help us to continue to deliver top-notch services while at the same time hold down tax increases.
Massachusetts has a program that creates incentives to build renewable energy facilities like those using solar and wind power. That program allows these facilities to sell the energy that they produce to the local transmission company, in our case National Grid. Unfortunately this program does not allow National Grid to simply write a check to the owners of these facilities. The owners must find customers that have enough usage to be able to absorb a credit of this size on their energy bills.
That makes large cities like Lowell very attractive to owners of “solar farms.” With our schools, water and wastewater treatment plants, and large buildings we use lots of energy. That means that we have bills that are big enough to take these credits. Furthermore, we can’t go anywhere. We won’t go out of business. We won’t move out-of-state. We are here and we are big, big enough that they only need to find one of us to make net metering work. It is nice to be wanted.
So how do these facilities get us to cooperate and let them use our bills? They give us part of the revenue they collect by selling their energy back to the grid. How the financial arrangements are structured can be complicated, and we were overwhelmed by the number and variety of solicitations from these firms. We decided that we should use their desire to do business with us to our advantage, so we got them to bid against one another.
The result was that we will receive at least $230,000 in annual revenue, maybe more if energy prices go up. We will get this revenue for the next 20 years. Still better, we are playing a large role to develop renewable energy sources that will help free Massachusetts and our entire country from dependence on fossil fuels.