Montague, Mass., Nov. 12, 2020 – In the largest municipal electric department purchase of clean, renewable power in New England history, 21 public power entities from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont have agreed to purchase 200 million kilowatt-hours per year of hydroelectric power produced by FirstLight Power in Western Massachusetts.
The purchase agreement, structured and executed by Energy New England, will help to cover the electric power demands of more than 200,000 homes in the participating communities while saving participating utilities’ ratepayers millions of dollars over the life of the contract. By relying on clean hydropower from the Turners Falls and Cabot generating facilities on the Connecticut River in Montague instead of electricity produced by natural gas or oil, the contract will deliver carbon-dioxide emissions reductions equal to taking 30,000 cars off the road by 2023.
“Never before have so many municipal light plants, municipal electric departments, and other public power utilities come together to buy emissions-free renewable power on this scale,’’ said Energy New England president and CEO John G. Tzimorangas. “We are honored to have had the chance to connect our ‘munis’ with one of Massachusetts’ premier energy suppliers, FirstLight Power, for this landmark transaction that will deliver environmental and economic benefits for years to come.”
FirstLight CEO Alicia Barton said: “This landmark transaction demonstrates that New England municipal utilities are leading the charge nationally when it comes to delivering clean, locally-produced and low-cost power to their customers. FirstLight’s Turners Falls and Cabot hydroelectric generating stations have been generating renewable power for more than a century and help support more than 110 great jobs in Western Massachusetts. With this transaction we amplify those local benefits to help communities across Massachusetts and New England reach their carbon reduction goals.”
Power purchased by Massachusetts municipal electric utilities served by Energy New England already accounts for on average 29 percent fewer carbon emissions from electric generation than average Commonwealth electricity-sector carbon emissions. The new contract with FirstLight will further improve the munis’ carbon profile to an average of 34 percent below the state average.
“While the Legislature continues to work on advancing laws governing how municipal light plants will support the Commonwealth’s net-zero by 2050 commitment, I am pleased to see this group of munis stepping up with a significant expansion of their procurement of renewable and carbon-free electricity, produced right here in Massachusetts,” said State Representative Thomas A. Golden, Jr., Chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy.
Coleen O’Brien, General Manager of the Reading Municipal Light Department, said, “FirstLight and Energy New England offered an excellent opportunity for RMLD to increase its portfolio of local renewable energy at competitive rates for our customers in the four towns we serve. The RMLD is pleased and honored to be a part of these successful collaboration efforts and history-making purchases by public power entities to ensure reliable, affordable energy.”
House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones said, “The Commonwealth’s municipal light departments have demonstrated that they’re more than willing to do their part voluntarily to meet the state’s emissions goals. This historic agreement represents a win-win-win-win for Massachusetts’ environment, local decision-making and home rule, investing in locally produced energy, and saving ratepayers money during these challenging economic times.”
FirstLight’s Cabot Generating Station, located on the Connecticut River in Montague, is Massachusetts’ largest conventional hydropower facility. First put into service in 1916, the facility comprises six generating units with combined output of 62 megawatts, enough to power more than 50,000 homes. Turners Falls, just upstream of Cabot, consists of 5 generators with combined output of 6 megawatts and was commissioned in 1905.
The 21 public power entities participating in the contract include 18 in Massachusetts: Belmont Municipal Light Department, Braintree Electric Light Department, Concord Municipal Light Plant, Danvers Electric Division, Georgetown Municipal Light Department, Groveland Municipal Light Department, Hingham Municipal Lighting Plant, Mass Development/Devens Utilities, Merrimac Municipal Light Department, Middleboro Gas & Electric Department, Middleton Municipal Electric Department, North Attleboro Electric Department, Norwood Municipal Light Department, Reading Municipal Light Department, Rowley Municipal Lighting Plant, Taunton Municipal Lighting Plan, Wellesley Municipal Light Plant, and Westfield Gas & Electric.
Also participating are the Block Island Utility District and Pascoag Utility District in Rhode Island and Stowe Electric Department in Vermont.
ABOUT FIRSTLIGHT POWER
FirstLight Power (FirstLight) is a leading clean power producer and energy storage company in New England with a portfolio that includes nearly 1.4 GW of pumped-hydro storage, battery storage, hydroelectric generation, and solar generation—the largest clean energy generation portfolio in New England today. firstlightpower.com
ABOUT ENERGY NEW ENGLAND (ENE)
ENE is the largest wholesale risk management and energy trading organization serving the needs of municipal utilities in the northeast. ENE works with numerous businesses, residents and utilities to help promote the principles of conservation, efficiency, and environmental stewardship, and advances the many benefits available through integrated sustainability planning. ene.org