Campus & Community

Harvard to purchase renewable energy credits

3 min read

Agreement supports wind power generation from Hull

Harvard University announced on June 13 that it will enter into an agreement with the town of Hull’s municipal light department to purchase the renewable energy credits (RECs) generated by the 1.8 megawatt Hull wind turbine for a 10-year period.

The Hull wind turbine, commissioned in May 2006, is the second wind turbine owned by Hull, Mass., and is expected to produce approximately 5 million kilowatt-hours (kwh) per year, amounting to 50 million kwh and 50,000 RECs over the 10-year life of the agreement.

A renewable energy credit is an energy market mechanism created to encourage the generation of clean power. Renewable energy credits allow renewable power generators to sell the clean energy attributes of the electricity they generate, while retaining the actual power itself.

The electricity generated by the Hull wind turbines will be used in Hull. But by purchasing Hull’s RECs, Harvard is both supporting the generation of renewable energy and meeting state regulations that require the University to purchase RECs from New England power generators equal to 2 and one-half percent of its total energy use this year.

One REC represents one megawatt hour of energy generated and/or sold from a renewable energy facility.

“Harvard’s agreement with the town of Hull is a ‘win-win’ for both parties. It will enable Harvard to expand its leadership in the support of energy from clean, renewable-generation sources and ensure that Harvard can purchase the RECs generated by Hull’s wind turbine for 10 years. Hull, in turn, will have a reliable 10-year revenue stream from the sale of the RECs,” said Mary Smith, Harvard’s manager of Energy Supply and Utility Administration.

“The town of Hull is not only pleased that Harvard’s REC purchase will provide a 10-year steady stream of income to the town, but Hull is also proud to add nonpolluting wind energy to the region’s energy mix and decrease the region’s dependence on foreign energy sources,” said Hull Municipal Lighting Plant Operations Manager John MacLeod.

Both the second Hull wind turbine and the agreement combine many innovative elements. The wind turbine is one of the largest on the East Coast and is one of the first of its size erected on a landfill. The agreement to purchase RECs for 10 years is the longest-known REC purchase agreement.

The Hull light department is one of the oldest municipal utilities in Massachusetts, selling electricity since 1893. Hull is currently the only municipality in Massachusetts to generate electricity from two large-scale wind turbines. The Hull wind turbine will also provide electricity to a planned Hull desalinization plant, making the plant one of the first in the world to be partly powered by wind energy.

The agreement builds on Harvard’s leadership in purchasing renewable energy credits from other locations in the country, which has stimulated competition among universities to support renewable energy credit purchases. Harvard currently purchases almost 20 million RECs as part of its campus voluntary renewable energy program.

In October 2005, the University received a Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions for its commitment to using renewable energy.