EERE Success Story—Massachusetts: Investments and Awareness in Home Energy Assessments, Weatherization, and Solar Lead to City Savings and Job Creation

August 21, 2013

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In December 2011, using an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG), New Bedford, Massachusetts created a permanent, post-Recovery, City Energy Office financed through energy savings. New Bedford Energy Now (NBEN) is a comprehensive energy program that enables residents and small businesses to reduce their energy consumption and costs. Economic need is a key driver of this new city-wide program designed to lower energy costs, create jobs, reduce carbon emissions, and help revitalize the community. NBEN has evolved into a public/private partnership working with local utility NSTAR to bring energy awareness to residents. NBEN provides energy assessments and financial assistance for weatherization, solar assessments (part of the city's Solar Initiative), and educational tools—all at no cost to the resident. As a result, residents have requested more than 1,500 home energy assessments and, out of the more than 900 assessments that were completed, 175 have completed energy-efficiency upgrades. Additionally, 13 residential solar systems have been installed, and more than 1,000 New Bedford residents have signed on to the New Bedford Challenge Now.

In addition to the NBEN residential and small business initiatives, the city used $80,000 in EECBG funds to develop a municipal solar strategy. The city is installing rooftop and ground-based solar photovoltaic units at select municipal building. EECBG funds were used to support legal experts in the creation of a template Power Purchase Agreement for all city sites and to support a technical consultant. The city’s goal is to produce 25% of municipally consumed electricity from solar energy in a partnership between the city and two private-sector partners, Boston-based BlueWave Capital and Consolidated Edison Solutions, Inc. The initiative plans to install 10 MW of solar on municipal buildings and property, as well as to support solar installations for the residential and commercial sectors. Currently, five roof-mounted PV systems are operational in the city, and together, they can produce 400 kilowatts of power, resulting in 486,368 kilowatt hours (kWh) generation per year with approximately $35,000 in annual savings.

By the end of 2013, the city will install five more predominately ground-mount systems, with a power capacity of 8.3 megawatts that will generate more than 12 million kWh of energy every year, resulting in approximately $300,000 in annual savings. In aggregate, by the end of December 2013, the initiative will have installed close to 8.7 MW or 12.5 million kWh of annual solar generation, yielding approximately $335,000 in savings per year.

The Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs Office (WIPO) provides funding and technical assistance to its partners in state and local governments, Indian tribes, and international agencies to facilitate the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) success stories highlight the positive impact of its work with businesses, industry partners, universities, research labs, and other entities.

Project Overview

Positive Impact

City of New Bedford’s comprehensive energy strategies have saved residents money while protecting the environment.

Locations

Massachusetts

Partners

City of New Bedford, Massachusetts, and local utility NSTAR

EERE Investment

$869,300

Clean Energy Sector

Energy-saving homes, buildings, and manufacturing