Frequently Asked Questions
About Electricity Generation in New England
About choosing Green Electricity
- What is renewable/green energy?
- How do I know renewable electricity will be delivered to my home?
- How can I support renewable energy?
- What are "new" resources?
- Why is it important to support new resources?
- How do my payments support renewable energy generators?
About our Green Power programs
- How do I enroll?
- How do New England GreenStart and New England Wind for National Grid & NSTAR customers work?
- How will my NSTAR or National Grid electric bill be affected?
- How will my Basic Service with National Grid or NSTAR be affected, and how will I be charged?
- How do I know renewable electricity will de delivered to my home?
- For NSTAR Customers: How does Mass Energy's partnership with Easy Energy work?
- For National Grid Customers: What’s the difference between GreenUp and New England GreenStart?
- Are my payments tax deductible?
- Are there any other fees or payments I should be aware of?
- Who do I call if I have a power outage?
- What happens if I want to opt out of New England GreenStart or New England Wind?
- What is the difference between New England GreenStart and New England Wind?
- What are the sources of New England Wind?
- How much of New England Wind comes from new resources?
- What are the sources of New England GreenStart?
- How much of New England GreenStart comes from new resources?
- Whatever happened to the New England Wind Fund?
About Electricity Generation in New England
In Massachusetts, over 80% of our electricity is generated from fossil fuels and nuclear power resources, causing significant harm to both the environment and public health. Much of the remainder comes in the forms of trash-to-energy, large hydro projects, various, unidentified types of power imported from other regions, and other sources that are not environmentally friendly. Your utility is required to send you a quarterly disclosure label which describes in detail the energy sources and emissions resulting from the electricity you use.
All New England states share one single network of power lines, called the electric grid. Generators from all over the region feed power into this grid and energy is drawn out on an as-needed basis. Since our electricity is based on a regional mix, the electricity that is actually delivered to your home is determined by which power generators are located closest to you.
The New England electric grid is managed and operated by an Independent System Operator (ISO-NE). ISO-NE is responsible for managing the schedule of which power plants should run when, so there’s always enough power being generated to meet the needs of the region.
About choosing Green Electricity
Energy that is produced from rapidly replenishable or infinite sources such as the sun, wind and water is considered renewable. Electricity generated from renewable sources has a lower impact on public health and the environment than that produced from fossil fuel and nuclear resources for many reasons, including:
1) It emits little or no air emissions;
2) It does not produce harmful radioactive waste;
3) Its fuel sources do not need to be mined or extracted from the earth.
Green attributes are the environmental characteristics of a renewable energy resource. For every one megawatt-hour unit of electricity that is generated in New England, a corresponding "certificate" is produced. Each certificate documents the characteristics of the power source, information such as air emissions, fuel source, and date the facility began operating. When these certificates are produced by a renewable resource, they are frequently referred to as Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). The Independent System Operator of New England (ISO-NE) issues and tracks these certificates through a region-wide accounting system, called the Generation Information System (GIS), which ensures that no double counting is allowed. There is market demand for certificates associated with renewable energy resources because consumers wish to support cleaner energy and electric utilities must meet renewable energy mandates.
When a consumer chooses green power, it means that their green power provider will purchase enough renewable energy certificates to match the customer’s electricity consumption.
Whether or not you choose to support renewable electricity, you draw upon the "pool" of power that makes up the New England electric grid. While it is physically impossible to distinguish and deliver individual electrons to specific homes or businesses, by choosing green power you are ensuring that renewable electricity is being delivered to the power grid on your behalf, thus creating a cleaner, healthier overall energy mix.
There are currently three basic ways you can support renewable electricity: 1) If you are a National Grid or NSTAR customer, you can sign up for Green Power programs by choosing programs like Mass Energy’s New England GreenStart or New England Wind; 2) You can make payments for renewable energy certificates separate from your utility bill (through programs like Mass Energy’s New England Wind Friends); 3) You can install your own renewable energy system. For businesses, there may also be opportunities to choose renewable electricity from a competitive electricity supplier.
1) Sign up for Green Power Programs
National Grid Customers:
If you are a National Grid customer, you can participate in the GreenUp program, which enables you to pay for renewable electricity right on your regular monthly utility bill. Mass Energy works with National Grid, the state’s largest utility, to offer New England GreenStart and New England Wind to residential and small commercial customers through this program. Both of these programs are available directly on your National Grid bill. They differ in the types of renewable energy they support. As the name suggests, New England Wind exclusively supports wind resources, while New England GreenStart supports an array of technologies, including wind, solar, digester gas (cow power), and small hydro.
If you are a NSTAR customer, you can pay for renewable electricity right on your regular monthly utility bill. Mass Energy has teamed up with Easy Energy, a competitive electricity supplier, to offer New England GreenStart and New England Wind to residential and small commercial NSTAR customers. Both of these programs are available directly on your NSTAR bill. They differ in the types of renewable energy they support. As the name suggests, New England Wind exclusively supports wind resources, while New England GreenStart supports an array of technologies, including wind, solar, digester gas (cow power), and small hydro. For more information about Easy Energy’s green power program for both residential and commercial customers, contact email@example.com.
2) Choose Renewable Energy Certificates
Customers that do not have National Grid or NSTAR as their electric utility company can still participate in the New England Wind Friends program completely separate from their utility bill. This means you can support the same projects included in the New England Wind program offered to National Grid and NSTAR customers.
3) Installing Solar Panels
One of the most direct ways to support the generation of renewable energy resources is to install a system at your own home or business. If you think you may be interested in installing your own solar PV system, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-287-3950, and we can help set you in the right direction.
What’s it called?
New England GreenStart (through National Grid and NSTAR)
New England Wind (through National Grid and NSTAR)
New England Wind Friends
Who can participate?
All residential and small commercial National Grid and NSTAR electric grid customers in MA and RI
What does it support?
75 % small, low-impact hydro, 25% new wind, solar, landfill gas, and anaerobic digester gas (cow power)
100% new wind resources
How do I pay for it?
Just keep paying your electric bill! The charge will be included on your bill, and your energy suppliersends this money on to us.
By credit card or check.
Renewable electricity generating facilities that began operation on or after January 1st, 1998 are considered ‘new’ resources for the purposes of Massachusetts’s and Rhode Island’s environmental mandates.
While it is important to support existing renewable facilities in order to keep them operating, you can make the biggest difference by helping to add more renewable energy resources to the system. Support for new renewable energy resources has the greatest impact on our energy mix by driving demand for new projects that will deliver incremental health and environmental benefits, and will help change the way our electricity is made. Furthermore, since 2003, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have had environmental mandates (called the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) in MA and the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) in RI) which require electric utilities to include a small but gradually increasing percentage of "new" renewable energy in their supply mix. Because electricity companies are required to buy new renewables, when consumers buy them too, more new projects will have to come online in order to satisfy these laws.
While many renewable energy resources, especially wind, are becoming increasingly cost competitive with conventional fossil fuels, it is currently still more expensive to generate energy from renewables. Part of this is due to the heavy subsidies traditional fossil fuels receive from our government, as well as the investments already made in our existing power infrastructure. However, the more people who choose cleaner energy, the more competitive renewables will become, helping bring down the cost over time. Another reason why renewable energy costs more is that, since our electric utilities do not include as much renewable energy in their supply portfolio as many of us would like, there are additional transaction costs associated with incorporating these resources. Your payments help cover for the incremental cost of renewable energy generation now, so that it can be competitive with standard sources of electricity in the future.
About our Green Power programs
- National Grid and NSTAR customers can enroll in either program online, quickly and easily.
- Click here to join New England Wind for National Grid or NSTAR customers
- Click here to join New England GreenStart for National Grid or NSTAR customers
- Be sure to have a copy of your electric bill available for easy reference to your account information.
- Not a National Grid electric customer? Click here to join NEW Friends Monthly.
- If you would prefer to receive information in the mail, please call our office at 1-800-287-3950 and one of our customer service representatives will assist you.
- For National Grid Customers: New England GreenStart and New England Wind are two of the choices offered through a program called GreenUp by National Grid. GreenUp allows you to choose cleaner, healthier electricity right on your regular utility bill. Options are available for both residential and small commercial customers. As your supplier, National Grid will continue to provide your electricity, and perform all of its normal functions and services, while Mass Energy will be responsible for providing your renewable energy beyond the minimum percentage required by state law.
- For NSTAR Customers: We’ve partnered up with Easy Energy, a local electricity supplier, to be able to provide green power right on your NSTAR bill. You’ll still receive your bill from NSTAR, but you’ll see Easy Energy as the company listed in the supply portion of your bill – that’s how you know you’re now receiving clean, local energy
While National Grid allows us to work with them to provide you with renewable energy on your bill, we don’t currently have a similar option available to us for NSTAR customers. So, we’ve partnered up with Easy Energy, a small, Massachusetts-based energy supplier, to be able to provide green power to NSTAR customers right on their bill. You’ll still receive your bill from NSTAR, but you’ll see Easy Energy as the company listed in the supply portion of your bill (it will replace NSTAR’s Basic Service).New England Wind or New England GreenStart will be included in those charges.
GreenUp is National Grid's green power supply program. We are a supplier to that program. New England GreenStart and New England Wind are Mass Energy’s brands of green power available through GreenUp. You must choose New England GreenStart or New England Wind, offered by Mass Energy. One of our major incentives is tax-deductibility, as we are non-profit and your contributions are recognized as charitable and for the public good.
National Grid Customers: If you participate in New England GreenStart or New England Wind, payments for New England GreenStart and New England Wind will be included in your monthly utility bill. The charges will show up on a separate line item from basic service charges.
NSTAR customers: You will switch out of NSTAR’s basic supply service, and instead have Easy Energy as your supplier. All charges for supply and New England Wind or New England GreenStart will be factored into the Easy Energy price. NSTAR will still be your electricity distributor, and send you your bill.
Electricity produced by the renewable energy resources in New England GreenStart and New England Wind flow into the New England power grid. Every electricity consumer draws upon this "pool" of power, which is a mix of all the resources in New England. While it is physically impossible to distinguish between and deliver individual electrons to specific homes or businesses, by choosing to support renewable electricity, you are increasing the number of green electrons being delivered to the power grid, thus creating a cleaner, healthier overall energy mix.
Yes! Mass Energy is a non-profit organization, and your payments are recognized as being made for the public good. They are considered a tax-deductible charitable contribution for federal income tax purposes, if you itemize on your federal return. If you are enrolled in New England GreenStart, you would be able to deduct 2.4 cents for each kilowatt hour you paid for. If you are enrolled in New England Wind, you would be able to deduct 3.8 cents per kilowatt hour you paid for. You cannot get this benefit from any other renewable energy supplier in Massachusetts. Mass Energy will provide you with an annual report on the amount that you may deduct.
There are no additional required fees associated with joining New England GreenStart or New England Wind if you are a National Grid customer. You may be invited to join or make a charitable contribution to Mass Energy’s other programs.
If you are an NSTAR customer on NSTAR’s 6 month fixed rate, it’s possible you’ll see a very small credit or charge from NSTAR on your first bill when you switch. For more information, see NSTAR’s rates page, here (information on the credit can be found at the fourth bullet under the first table). Additionally, if you join our green electricity program for NSTAR customers and you drop out of the program for a reason other than moving before the end of your term (usually 6 months), you may be charged a $50 termination fee. You can find out more about this in the Terms of Service.
In the event of a power outage or other service disruption, you should contact your electric utility (National Grid or NSTAR).
- National Grid customers: Payments for New England GreenStart or New England Wind will be included in your monthly utility bill, and you will see the charges as a separate line item.
- NSTAR customers: Payments for New England GreenStart or New England Wind will become part of the supply portion of your NSTAR bill. You will see “Easy Energy” listed in the supply section, instead of NSTAR’s Basic Service, and that is how you will know you are receiving 100% clean energy. The Easy Energy total will cost up to 2.7 cents/kwh more than NSTAR’s Basic Service for New England GreenStart, or up to 4.1 cents/kwh more than Basic Service for New England Wind.
You can opt out at any time by calling us at 800-287-3950, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. When you opt out, your New England GreenStart or New England Wind enrollment will finish out the billing cycle before ending, so you will see one final charge on your next bill.
The major difference is the sources of renewable energy that make up each product. The price also differs.
New England GreenStart is sourced locally from a mix of low-impact hydro, wind, solar, and digester gas (cow power).
New England Wind is sourced from 100% new wind power in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
New England Wind consists only of new wind resources, located exclusively in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. So the sources are 100% new, meaning they were built since 1998.
New England GreenStart consists of 25 % new renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and anaerobic digester gas (cow power) and 75% small, low-impact hydroelectric.
In Massachusetts, 25% of New England GreenStart is generated from new renewable energy resources. Those that are interested a higher percentage of new renewables should consider New England Wind, which is exclusively from 100% new wind resources.
We first started the New England Wind Fund because we had more demand for wind energy than there were viable wind projects in the area to support. The New England Wind Fund allowed us to use contributions to support projects that had not yet been constructed. Because of changes in policy and voluntary support from people like our members, this is no longer the case. Still, because of the track record we’ve established through our green power programs, we are a credit-worthy purchaser capable of entering into long-term contracts with nascent projects. This allows us to continue the mission of the New England Wind Fund, while supporting wind power projects in real time. Until we have spent all the money contributed to the New England Wind Fund, we will be posting annual reports on this web site.