For the past 10 years, the Town of Natick has sought to reduce its energy use and has implemented a variety of programs and policies in support of
this goal. Since first benchmarking municipal energy consumption in 2008, the Town has completed more than 100 energy conservation measures, which are estimated to save more than 500,000 in electricity, natural gas, oil and other fuel costs annually. As a result of these projects, the Town s energy use has decreased by 20 in less than a decade from approximately 140,000 MMbtus in Fiscal 2008 to 110,000 MMbtus in Fiscal 2017.
Unfortunately, in Fiscal 2017, Natick s year-over-year energy use increased from 101,000 MMbtus in Fiscal 2016 to 110,000 MMbtus. While much of this
increase can be attributed to weather (a colder winter and hotter summer resulted in a greater demand for heating and cooling), an analysis revealed that several large municipal buildings were not operating as efficiently as possible. In response, the Town is working with the Facilities Management team to develop a budget and schedule for commissioning buildings and will be evaluating energy usage from large buildings on a more frequent basis.
Natick is also pursuing a variety of energy efficiency upgrades to further reduce use, with a focus on the sources of high energy consumption and
projects with quick paybacks. One source of funding for these projects is the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources s Green Communities program, which has provided the Town with nearly 1M since it joined in 2010.
DPW Equipment Maintenance Garage and Administrative Offices LED lighting retrofits Police and Fire Headquarters Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) for
rooftop units Morse Institute Library - VFD for chilled water pump Morse Institute Library Replacement of Liebert system serving Archive Room with a ductless mini-split Eliot School - LED lighting retrofit
Natick typically learns the status of its Green Communities grant request in July of each year. This year our Green Communities regional coordinator
has informed us that there is less money available and more candidates than ever before, but we are hopeful we have submitted a strong application. We will be sure to update you as soon as we have more information on this opportunity.
In 2017, the Town of Natick, in collaboration with the City of Newton and the Towns of Arlington, Lexington and Weston, served as an intevenor in the
Eversource rate case Docket 17-05.
Our concerns regarding this case were related to provisions in Eversource's proposal to eliminate and consolidate rate classes associated with net
metered solar projects for municipalities and other large commercial customers (specifically the elimination of Rates A-9 and T-1/B-5 and the transition of accounts using these rates to Rate G-1). We were concerned with this proposal because it was estimated to reduce the value of the net metering credits Natick receives from its municipal solar arrays from about 24 cents to 14 cents per kWh, resulting in a loss of approximately 340,000 in annual net metering revenue for the Town or approximately 6.7 million in lost revenue over our projects 20-year contract terms.
On January 5, 2018, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) issued its decision on the case (a copy of the decision is attached). The
DPU did not approve Eversource s request to eliminate these rate classes at this time. However, it did put all customers taking net metering services, as well as net metering stakeholders, on notice that it is possible the current value of net metering credits will decrease in the future. To limit the potential impacts of future rate design proposals, the Department also required Eversource to close Rate T-1/B-5 to all new customers effective February 1, 2018.
While the solar projects Natick is currently net metering will not be affected by the closing of Rate T-1/B-5, our agreement to serve as the host
customer for the electricity produced by the solar canopies planned for the West Natick Commuter Rail Station will be. Because we anticipated these rate changes, we included provisions in our contract for negotiations should a change in applicable legal requirements that result in a material adverse change in the net metering credits value occurred. This position requires the parties to negotiate in good faith to amend the agreement, so as to restore economic benefit to the Town, and we have been working with the developer to identify an alternative rate and to propose an amended contract to the Board in the coming months.
It should also be noted that the rate case approved a range of other proposals by Eversource including demand charges for new residential solar
projects starting on December 31, 2018 and the elimination of optional time-of-use rates for residential customers two measures that the Board opposed in a previous letter to our legislators in 2017. In January, the MA Telecom Utilities Energy Committee had an emergency hearing to discuss the implications of these changes and there is interest in legislation that will prevent utilities from imposing demand charges on individual customers. Should the Board agree, I would be happy to draft a new letter in support of this effort for the Town to send to our legislators.
Petition of NSTAR Electric Company and Western Massachusetts Electric Company, each doing business as Eversource Energy, Pursuant to G.L. c. 164, 94
and 220 CMR 5.00 et seq., for Approval of General Increases in Base Distribution Rates for Electric Service and a Performance Based Ratemaking Mechanism. ____________________________________________________________________________
Maura Healey, Attorney General Commonwealth of Massachusetts By: Joseph W. Rogers Nathan C. Forster John J. Geary Matthew E. Saunders Donald Boecke
William Stevens Elizabeth A. Anderson Alexander M. Early Elizabeth L. Mahony Shannon Beale Christina Belew Sara Bresolin Joseph Dorfler Assistant Attorneys General Office of Ratepayer Advocacy One Ashburton Place Boston, Massachusetts 02108 Intervenor