Massachusetts renewable energy and energy efficiency

Massachusetts offers a variety of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs and incentives across multiple technology types and sectors, including residential, commercial, and utility-scale. These programs include incentives for both energy efficiency and renewable energy systems and upgrades. Energy efficiency upgrades span across a wide range of applications such as appliances, lighting, and HVAC. The state's renewable energy programs cover various renewable technologies including biomass, solar, geothermal, wind and hydropower. Massachusetts has enacted a renewable portfolio standard in order to diversify its energy mix and further increase its renewable energy capacity.

A history of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC) was established in 1969 and promotes the optimization of energy resources within municipal utilities. It achieves this through offering services, expertise and strategic vision to assist the shifting of New England's wholesale power markets. In 1976, MMWEC became a non-profit corporation within the state and promoted ownership interests in energy facilities through issued tax-exempt revenue bonds. The MMWEC organization has 20 municipal utility members as well as 28 participants in its Power Supply Projects.1

In 1988, the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company established the Home Energy Loss Prevention Service (HELPS) to offer free home energy audits in order to pinpoint energy saving opportunities. HELPS now also offers various incentives for consumers from 17 different electric municipalities in addition to a free home energy audit. These incentives include appliances and HVAC upgrades as well as an incentive for electric vehicles.

Massachusetts's Renewable Portfolio Standard

Massachusetts's Renewable Portfolio Standard was adopted in 2003 with a compliance obligation of one percent; it increased by one-half percent annually until reaching four percent in 2009.2 Following 2009, the Renewable Portfolio Standard set its compliance obligation to increase by one percent annually and created two separate classes for new and existing renewable energy facilities. Each class has different annual compliance requirements and eligibility criteria. Renewable Portfolio Standard obligations are met through procuring a sufficient amount of RPS-qualified renewable energy certificates. These RECs are tracked through the New England Power Pool Generation Information System, which tracks all energy generated within the ISO New England area and fed onto the New England grid and also electricity exchanged between ISO New England and adjacent areas.

The Renewable Portfolio Standard Class I compliance obligation increases by one percent annually with no currently established end date. This requirement is met by qualified new renewable energy facilities which include any qualified renewable energy facilities that began commercial operation after 1997. Eligible generation technologies include solar photovoltaic, solar thermal electric, wind energy, small hydropower, landfill methane and anaerobic digester gas, marine or hydrokinetic energy, geothermal energy, and eligible biomass fuel. On January 1, 2010, the RPS Class I established a requirement for a portion of the renewable energy requirement to come from solar photovoltaic energy. This RPS Solar Carve-Out supported over 650 megawatts of new solar PV energy facilities. A second phase of the Solar Carve-Out program began in April 2014 with a solar PV installation capacity goal of 1,600 megawatts but was extended and accepted applications for new PV facilities until the launch of the new Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target Program. Eligible facilities generate SREC IIs for a 40-quarter period beginning when they are qualified and afterward generated Class I RECs.

The Renewable Portfolio Standard Class II pertains to facilities that use eligible renewable resources but have an operation date prior to January 1, 1998. Eligible facilities generate Class II RECs and the annual percentage requirement varies annually.

The Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target Program is a 1,600-megawatt declining block incentive program that began accepting applications in late November 2018. Incentive levels will be reduced by a fixed percentage that varies depending on utility for each 200 megawatt block split amongst the utilities.3

Important renewable energy organizations in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources strives to ensure the quality of the state's energy supply and implement policies and programs to create a clean energy pathway for all consumers. The organization has five different divisions: emerging technology, energy efficiency, energy policy planning and analysis, green communities, and renewable energy. Each of these divisions provides in-depth information on their topics as well as division specific projects and learning opportunities.

The Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company works with municipal utilities to promote efficiency and further develop their interests. MMWEC has the authority to issue tax-exempt revenue bonds on behalf of its members in order to finance electric power projects. MMWEC members have invested in renewable resources for a cleaner future with many members' power portfolios being nearly 50% carbon-free.


  1. Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company. “Who We Are.” Accessed October 28, 2020.
  2. Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. “Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.” Accessed October 28, 2020.
  3. Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. “Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program.” Accessed October 28, 2020.

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