The City of Worcester in Massachusetts has been a regional leader in sustainability for years, embracing energy efficiency and renewable energy as part of its comprehensive Climate Action Plan that aims to improve sustainability across all aspects of the city’s activities. In fact, the effort is so important that the city formed Worcester Energy, a standalone municipal initiative run by the City Energy and Asset Management Division of Worcester, Massachusetts. Worcester Energy manages everything from building efficiency and renewable energy procurement to climate planning, municipal lighting upgrades and educational programming.
Some of the most prominent examples of the city’s adoption of renewable energy include 14 active municipal solar systems, a 262-foot wind turbine on one of the city schools, purchasing of renewable energy certificates to offset the carbon footprint of its municipal operations. One of the municipally owned solar arrays is the 8.1 MW facility at the former Greenwood Street Landfill. Covering approximately 26 acres, it is the largest municipal solar array in New England as of 2017.
“We began the preparation for becoming a certified Green Community in 2009 and achieved that goal in 2010,” said John O’Dell, Director of City Energy Division and Asset Manager. “We began looking at solar right away and installed our own first arrays in the following year or two. We followed that with another eight arrays over the years on municipal land and buildings, but we have limited space to continue that. So, we started looking at other options when we were contacted about the net metering opportunities under the state’s solar development programs, and immediately saw the value.”
The City of Worcester signed its first net metering agreement (also called a Virtual Power Purchase Agreements, or VPPA) in 2014, and added two more net metering agreements when it entered into a partnership with Nexamp in 2016.