Massachusetts Class I RECs: Understanding RECs in New England

Learn how RECs and SRECs work in Massachusetts, one of the leading states for solar energy.

Last updated
July 3, 2024
Author: Matt from Currents
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Renewable energy certificates (RECs) play a crucial role in supporting clean energy development and meeting state renewable energy goals.

In Massachusetts, Class I RECs are an essential component of the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).

What are Massachusetts Class I RECs?

Massachusetts Class I RECs are certificates issued for electricity generated by qualifying renewable energy sources in New England.

These certificates represent the environmental attributes of one megawatt-hour (MWh) of clean energy production. The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) established the RPS in 2002, which was later expanded in 2008 by the Green Communities Act.

Eligible Sources for Class I RECs

Class I RECs can be produced by various renewable energy sources, including:

  • Solar photovoltaic (PV)
  • Solar thermal
  • Wind
  • Low-impact hydroelectric
  • Aerobic digester gas
  • Geothermal

These facilities must have begun operation after 1997 to qualify for Class I REC production.

How Class I RECs Differ from SRECs

While both Class I RECs and SRECs fall under the Massachusetts RPS, there are key differences:

  1. Energy source: Class I RECs encompass a broader range of renewable energy sources, while SRECs are specific to solar energy production.
  2. Market value: SRECs typically trade at higher prices than Class I RECs due to the solar carve-out in the RPS.
  3. Eligibility period: Solar facilities have a limited eligibility period for SREC production, after which they transition to producing Class I RECs.

The Importance of Class I RECs in Massachusetts

  1. RPS compliance: Utilities and retail electricity suppliers must purchase Class I RECs to meet their RPS obligations.
  2. Project financing: REC sales provide additional revenue for renewable energy projects, making them more financially viable.
  3. Clean energy goals: By incentivizing renewable energy production, Class I RECs help Massachusetts progress towards its goal of being 80% carbon-free by 2050.

The Class I REC Market

The Massachusetts RPS sets annual targets for renewable energy procurement, which increase over time. For example:

  • 2023: 21% renewable energy requirement
  • 2024: 23% renewable energy requirement
  • 2025: 25% renewable energy requirement

These increasing targets create a growing demand for Class I RECs, encouraging the development of new renewable energy projects in New England.

How to Participate in the Class I REC Market

Renewable energy facility owners can generate Class I RECs by:

  1. Obtaining certification from the Massachusetts DOER
  2. Registering with the New England Power Pool Generation Information System (NEPOOL-GIS)
  3. Using an Independent Verifier to report energy production

If you don't have time or are confused, don't worry. Currents can help you generate and report your RECs to MA.

Once certified, facilities can sell their RECs to utilities, businesses, or individuals looking to support renewable energy or meet RPS requirements.

Conclusion

By understanding the differences between Class I RECs and SRECs, stakeholders can better navigate the renewable energy market and contribute to Massachusetts' clean energy future.

As the state continues to increase its renewable energy targets, the demand for Class I RECs is expected to grow, creating new opportunities for renewable energy projects and furthering the transition to a cleaner, more sustainable energy grid in Massachusetts and throughout New England.

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