Clean Power Purchasing


Boston has a lot at stake when it comes to climate change. With rising sea levels alone, more than $463 billion in Boston’s waterfront assets are at risk of flooding and damage. The Boston Green Ribbon Commission is a group of business, institutional and civic leaders in Boston working to develop shared strategies for fighting climate change in coordination with the city’s Climate Action Plan. The plan includes strong recommendations on how we can:

  1. Increase efficiencies
  2. Prepare for extreme weather and higher sea levels
  3. Reduce emissions

Since 2010 Boston’s Green Ribbon Commission members have been sharing best practices to address the first issue – increasing efficiency. The GRC’s Climate Preparedness Working Group has been developing strategies to address the second issue, and last fall Boston University hosted the Green Ribbon Commission’s Higher Education and Healthcare Working Groups to explore solutions to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

The Green Ribbon Commission is now more directly addressing the third challenge by seeking solutions for a clean energy supply. During Earth Week, BU hosted the Clean Power Purchasing Network to help participants advance their strategies for purchasing power with zero carbon content. The event was an opportunity for Boston-area large energy consumers to learn about opportunities for large-scale clean energy purchasing through an analysis of the Massachusetts clean energy market and by members sharing experiences and strategies.

In an effort to successfully meet the City’s greenhouse gas reduction targets of 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, sustainability@BU, Healthcare Without Harm, and the Harvard Office for Sustainability began a collaboration with the Green Ribbon Commission in early 2015 to explore solutions to significantly increase the renewable energy supply and formed the Clean Power Purchasing Network.  The Earth Week meeting was an important event for moving these issues forward.

Meister Consultants Group

Chad Laurent, a senior consultant at Meister Consultants Group specializing in renewable energy law and policy, sustainable business strategies, and renewable energy project development provided the foundation for the afternoon’s discussion by describing the market opportunities and challenges in Massachusetts, why renewables make sense financially, and procurement pathways.

Boston University

Sustainability Director, Dennis Carlberg presented Boston University’s developing strategy for renewable energy development and procurement on campus and off campus. He noted feasibility studies are currently underway for up to 4 MW of installed solar energy systems on the Charles River Campus and 1 MW of solar on the Medical Campus and that the University is exploring cost saving renewable energy procurement opportunities through wind and solar energy developments in New England and farther afield through Net Metering.

Partners HealthCare

John Messervy, director of capital and facility planning at Partners HealthCare explained their goal is to reduce GHG emissions by 25% by 2020 from 1990 levels – essentially 42% from 2008 when Partners set its targets and began their sustainability efforts. According to Messervy, they are on target to meet that goal by investing $61M in 230 energy conservation measures to date that yield a 28% energy reduction with a 3.7 year payback (27% annual return), cogeneration with a total of 33 MWs at 4 hospitals and 1 research lab location with a 7.8 year payback (13% annual return), and with 10 MW of onsite solar PV potential.

Harvard University

Jaclyn Olsen, the assistant director for Harvard’s Office for Sustainability and Mary Smith, Harvard’s associate director for energy supply & utility administration discussed their goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2016. Toward that goal, Harvard has improved energy efficiency, switched to cleaner burning fuels, expanded combined heat and power generation on campus, installed 1 MW of solar on campus and buys 10% of their electricity from a wind farm in Maine.

Presentations By Market Participants

PowerOptions, a local leader in clean energy procurement, and national leaders Altenex and CustomerFirst Renewables shared their experience connecting large-scale renewable energy needs with opportunities. They shared their strategies for procuring renewable energy to reduce energy costs and stabilize price volatility.

The meeting concluded with a discussion about next steps, opportunities for further collaboration and the potential for Green Ribbon Commission member organizations and others to aggregate their needs for clean energy to realize greater cost savings.



Comments are closed.