Renewable Energy for WinPower

WinPower is committed to supporting the growth of new, local renewable energy in our region. The state of Massachusetts has progressive policies that require everyone to use more renewable energy over time, however, the pace of change needs to be faster to mitigate the effects of climate change. WinPower is leveraging the buying power of our community to bring more renewable electricity to our residents and businesses. 

A Renewable Option for Everyone

Winchester’s default option, WinPower Standard, has 20% extra renewable energy included, above and beyond state requirements. 

Participating in WinPower Standard makes you a climate leader. The Program also offers an electricity option that adds 100% clean energy, letting you take an even bigger step in the fight against climate change. 

The Sources of Extra Renewable Energy 

All of the extra renewable energy in the WinPower Program qualifies as MA Class I, and is 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. WinPower sources its extra renewable energy exclusively from within New England. We’re helping to keep our energy impact local, supporting New England’s clean energy economy. See the map of sources below.

From Zero-Emission or Methane-Destroying Sources

WinPower’s extra renewable electricity only comes 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 excluded, due to their positive emissions of CO2 during their life cycles.

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

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 (RPS), 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, Winchester is incentivizing even more renewable energy generation development in New England.

How big is our impact? 

In 2019, WinPower bought a 4,224 MWh of extra MA Class I renewable energy, above and beyond state requirements. These voluntary purchases are about equivalent to the annual production of a typical wind turbine (1.5 MW). 

Many other cities and towns are joining Winchester to implement the same type of electricity aggregation program, amplifying the impact on the renewable electricity market. In fact, recent estimates suggest that fully 10% of the entire MA Class I markets will soon be voluntarily purchased by municipal aggregations like WinPower, going above and beyond state requirements. 

What are RECs and Why We Need Them 

When electricity generated by renewable sources, e.g., solar and wind, is added to our regional electricity grid, it’s mixed with electricity generated from many other sources and is indistinguishable from electricity generated by other sources 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.

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