Smart Growth & Regional Collaboration
& Best Practices
MAPC supports communities wishing to invest in solar energy through regional procurement projects, solar energy management contract development, solar permitting and zoning support, and educational events. Solar energy management contracts are long-term service agreements between communities and developers and include system design, financing, installation, operations, maintenance, long-term lease of public space, electricity, and a system performance guarantee.
Contact the Clean Energy Team for more information.
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- Solar Contracting & Best Practices
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A community entering into a solar EMS contract is responsible for hosting the PV system on a municipally-owned site and purchasing all of the electricity generated by the PV system.
The benefit to the community is a long-term guarantee for solar energy production at a determined price schedule without the risks of ownership. The developer owns the PV system and generates revenue by selling electricity to the community and monetizing the tax incentives and Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) associated with solar electricity generation.
MAPC's Regional Solar Initiative
In 2012, MAPC facilitated a regional procurement process under Ch. 25A with support from The Cadmus Group for solar energy management services (EMS) on behalf of 17 cities and towns in the MAPC region. The cities and towns that participated in the process included Belmont, Beverly, Boxborough, Brookline, Chelsea, Hudson, Lincoln, Marlborough, Medford, Medway, Melrose, Reading, Sherborn, Wayland, Weston, Weymouth, and Winthrop.
Representatives from several of these municipalities formed a selection committee to rank the respondents and select the top-ranked developer with whom the participating communities are eligible to enter into individual solar EMS agreements.
A community shared solar (CSS) arrangement provides the benefits of a solar photovoltaic system to multiple participants.
In Massachusetts, these benefits generally come in the form of net metering credits - the energy produced by the CSS system is sold to the energy grid for credits, which are then distributed among participants in the shared solar agreement.
Community shared solar offers opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents, renters, and homeowners whose rooftops are unsuitable for solar to invest in renewable energy and receive the cost savings on their monthly utility bill or through an online portal. Projects do not need to be sited in the community they are serving – instead, rooftop installations, solar canopies, or installations on public or private land can be located anywhere in the same utility territory and load zone as the community.
Municipal Program Spotlight:
Newton’s Community Solar Share Initiative
Newton’s Community Solar Share Initiative (CoSSI) is a cooperative pilot program run by the City of Newton, its solar developer Ameresco, energy provider Eversource, and Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD). Newton’s approach to CSS enables the City to spread the financial benefits of their municipal solar canopy project to low-income residents in the community.
With support from the EPA's Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization, MAPC has been working with Groundwork USA to explore Brownfields to Brightfields (B2B) as a strategy to revitalize polluted land, to promote solar energy, and to advance equitable community development.
B2B projects repurpose brownfield sites – land with known or potential hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants – with solar and other renewable energy installations on ground-mounted arrays, building rooftops, or canopy structures. There is great potential for these projects to create local benefits, especially in low-income communities and communities of color that disproportionately suffer from industrial pollution, disinvestment, and vacancy; lack access to clean energy resources; and face severe climate change impacts and risks.
Groundwork USA and MAPC have co-produced this mapping tool to enable municipal officials, state agencies, renewable energy developers, and community organizations to assess brownfield sites in Massachusetts for B2B project suitability and to better understand the opportunities for community benefits from these projects or alternative uses for the sites.
This memo summarizes research undertaken between 2020 and 2021 by Groundwork USA and MAPC, with support from EPA’s Brownfields and Land Revitalization Program, to understand the landscape of and opportunities for equitable “Brownfields to Brightfields” (B2B) projects in the U.S. Click here to read.
May 2021 Webinar
On May 20, 2021, MAPC and Groundwork USA hosted a virtual “Brownfields to Brightfields: Unlocking Solar Energy and Equitable Community Development” workshop, attended by over 70 people. A recording of the workshop is available here. Workshop speakers and presenters shared models and real-world examples of B2B projects that advance equity and community benefits, introduced Groundwork USA and MAPC’s newly created mapping tool for identifying potential B2B sites in Massachusetts, and laid the groundwork for future B2B project partnerships.
Community Shared Solar Implementation Guidelines for Massachusetts Communities; Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. READ
Fact sheet on Procurement Models for Public Community Shared Solar in Massachusetts; Cadmus Group. READ
Guide to Streamlining the Solar PV Permitting Process and Developing Supportive Zoning Bylaws to facilitate and encourage the development of solar photovoltaic systems in the Commonwealth. READ BLOG POST and DOWNLOAD GUIDE
Best Practices for Streamlining Solar Permitting and Inspection Processes READ