Renewable energy

Renewable energy sources are sources that we don’t run out of, like the sun and the wind. Historical, fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas have been used as energy sources, but they are available in a limited amount on the planet.

By replacing electricity generated by burning fossil fuels with electricity generated from renewable energy resources such as solar and wind energy, Chelsea is working to:

  • Reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases. Electricity generated from renewable sources, such as the sun and wind, does not create the greenhouse gases that cause climate change and does not pollute the air.
  • Support New England-based renewable energy projects. Chelsea prioritizes buying renewable energy from New England-based renewable energy projects. By creating additional demand for the electricity generated by those projects, Chelsea Electricity Choice will help to support existing projects and stimulate the development of additional projects.
  • Support local businesses and local jobs. Purchasing renewable energy from New England-based projects means supporting New England-based businesses and the jobs they provide to local communities.

What it means to “buy electricity from renewable sources”

Unless you have a renewable energy system, such as solar panels, plugged directly into your home or office, you cannot purchase the specific electricity that is generated by a renewable energy project. The electricity flowing through the grid is a mix, and it includes electricity generated by renewable energy projects as well as those generated by fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and gas, and other resources such as nuclear. The individual sources cannot be separated out at the level of the grid.

As a result, a separate system has been created to keep track of renewable electricity and to allow it to be bought and sold. That system tracks electricity put into the grid using renewable energy certificates, or RECs. Every time a renewable energy project puts 1 megawatt-hour of electricity into the grid, 1 REC is minted. That REC can then be sold. Purchasing a REC gives you, and no one else, the right to say you used the electricity from that renewable energy project.

Anyone who wishes to purchase renewable electricity must then purchase 2 things: they must purchase the electricity itself from the grid, and then they must also purchase RECs that equal the amount of electricity they use. (These two costs are often bundled together, and they are why renewable energy costs a bit more.) Whoever buys RECs has the right to say they used the electricity generated by the associated renewable energy projects. Those RECs are then retired so that they cannot be purchased by anyone else, and no one else can claim to have used that electricity.

Chelsea Electricity Choice purchases RECs in order to integrate an increased amount of renewable electricity into the City’s electricity supply. No one else can claim that they used the renewable electricity associated with the RECs that Chelsea buys.

The minimum amount of electricity from renewable sources required by state law

Massachusetts state law requires that all electricity sold in the state must include a minimum amount of electricity from different types of renewable sources and also from clean energy sources that are not necessarily renewable such as nuclear. The required amounts increase a little every year. For 2024, the total amount required from renewable and clean sources is 62%. For details, download the RPS and APS Minimum Standards through 2030 spreadsheet from the state’s Annual Compliance Information for Retail Electric Suppliers webpage.)

The Chelsea Standard and Chelsea 100% Green options include additional renewable energy from New England-based renewable energy projects over and above the minimum amounts required by the state.