Renewable Energy

Waltham Community Electricity is leveraging the buying power of our community to bring more clean electricity to our residents and businesses.

Waltham Community Electricity is committed to supporting the growth of new renewable energy in our region. While the Commonwealth of Massachusetts mandates policies that require electricity consumers to purchase more renewable energy over time, the pace of change needs to be faster to mitigate the effects of climate change. WCE is leveraging the buying power of our community to bring more clean electricity than the required minimums to our residents and businesses. 

Options for you

Waltham’s standard product, Waltham 10, has 10% extra renewable energy certificates (RECs) included, above and beyond the minimum requirements of the Commonwealth. 

Participating in Waltham 10 makes you a climate leader. We also offer electricity options that add 50% and 100% clean energy to let you take an even bigger step in the fight against climate change. 

Resources that have recently been, are in, or are contracted with Green Energy Consumers as of October 2020.

The Sources of Extra Renewable Energy

All of the extra renewable energy certificates (RECs) in the WCE program qualify as MA Class I, and are provided through the local non-profit, Green Energy Consumers Alliance. Purchasing through Green Energy Consumers Alliance provides two important benefits for our renewable energy.

From  New England

MA Class I renewable energy can come from New England or adjacent parts of Canada and New York. Waltham Community Electricity sources its extra renewable energy exclusively from within New England. We’re helping to keep our energy impact in our region, supporting New England’s clean energy economy.

From Zero-Emission or Methane-Destroying Sources

WCE’s extra RECs come only from zero-emission sources, such as solar, wind, low impact hydropower1, and sources that destroy methane, such as anaerobic digestion. Methane has a global warming potential (GWP) 28-36 times greater than CO2 over a 100 year period2. Combustion destroys methane and releases some CO2, resulting in a net reduction in GWP. Other forms of biomass are explicitly not purchased, due to their positive emissions of CO2 during their life cycles.

Helping to Build Clean Energy

Massachusetts requires all energy suppliers to include a minimum amount of MA Class I renewable energy that increases annually. If the supplier does not meet these requirements, the supplier is required to pay a penalty. This policy, called the Renewable Portfolio Standard, provides growing demand for renewable energy, which incentivizes new renewable generation facilities to be built. By purchasing a significant quantity of extra MA Class I renewable energy, Waltham is incentivizing even more renewable energy generation development in New England.

How big is our impact? 

Many other cities and towns are joining with Waltham to implement the same type of electricity program, amplifying the impact on the renewable energy market. In fact, recent estimates suggest that fully 10% of the entire MA Class I market will soon be voluntarily purchased by programs like Waltham Community Electricity, going above and beyond the requirements set by the Commonwealth. 

What Are RECs and Why We Need Them 

When electricity generated by renewable sources – such as solar and wind – is put onto our regional electricity grid, it becomes mixed in with and indistinguishable from the other electricity on the grid. It is not possible to physically separate out renewable electricity from the grid mix for your individual consumption. 

As a result, a tracking system, called Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), has been created to enable the purchase and use of renewable electricity. For every one megawatt-hour of renewable electricity generated, one REC is created. In order to use renewable electricity, one must purchase a quantity of RECs equal to the amount of electricity purchased from the grid. Once used, a REC is retired so that no one else can purchase that same REC or claim to use it.

1Hydro projects that do not exceed 30 MW built after 1997 or have capacity additions or efficiency improvements made after 1997 (MA Class I eligible), and Low Impact Hydro Institute (LIHI) certified.

2Environmental Protection Agency. Understanding Global Warming Potentials.