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The Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has released regulations expanding support for renewable energy and alternative energy technologies mandated by the Green Communities Act, the comprehensive energy reform legislation enacted last year.

"These regulations implement key provisions of the Green Communities Act for promoting renewable and alternative energy technologies," said DOER Commissioner Philip Giudice. "The support they provide for expanding renewable energy capacity and investing in innovative energy technologies will move Massachusetts toward the clean energy future Governor Patrick envisions for the commonwealth."

The Green Communities Act directed changes in the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to double the rate of increase in the use of renewable energy, create a new Class II RPS to support the continued operation of older (pre-1998) renewable-energy-generating facilities, and establish a new alternative energy portfolio standard (APS) to support other innovative energy technologies.

These new programs will be governed by these emergency regulations, developed through a stakeholder process that took place last fall, for up to three months, while the DOER holds a public hearing and receives comment prior to promulgating final regulations.

Principal provisions of the regulations include the following:

- The rate of increase in the renewable energy required of utilities and other electricity suppliers from renewable-energy-generating facilities created since 1998 will rise from 0.5% of sales annually to 1% per year.

- RPS Class II renewables is limited to generation that went online on or before Dec. 31, 1997. Utilities and other electricity suppliers are required to purchase renewable energy certificates from Class II facilities equal to at least 3.6% of sales, or to make alternative compliance payments (ACP) per megawatt hour to meet the Class II RPS obligation. The initial ACP rate is $25 per MWh in 2009, and will be adjusted each year with the Consumer Price Index.

- Eligible technologies for the APS include combined heat and power and flywheel energy storage, which can improve the flow of electricity on the power grid by storing excess power for release when needed. The initial APS minimal standard will be 0.75% of sales in 2009 and will rise by 0.5% per year through 2015.

DOER is expected to promulgate regulations on additional technologies mandated by the Green Communities Act under RPS Class II and APS by this spring.

SOURCE: Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

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