For the Gazette

Monday, March 05, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — The nonprofit energy supplier of the Hampshire Council of Governments has launched a brokerage service to help maximize investments in clean energy made by property owners in the region.

People who install qualified green energy systems can apply for energy credits from the state that can then be sold. For a 7 percent fee, HCG Power will do the selling for the property owner, aggregating those credits with those of others to obtain the best market price, according to the nonprofit.

Business owners, municipalities, schools, nonprofits and individuals who have installed qualified heating and cooling systems after Jan. 1, 2015, can still apply for retroactive energy credits (also known as Alternative Energy Certificates) until a March 16 deadline.

“The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources recently promulgated regulations expanding alternative renewable energy incentives to owners of clean heating and cooling technologies,” a statement from HCG said. “After registering a system, an owner may receive AECs equal to the energy the system is expected to produce.”

Alternative Energy Certificates are valued at a market price of approximately $20 each, according to the state’s 2017 Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard. The credits are given to customers based on energy outputs of systems installed.

HCG Power’s brokerage service purchases AECs to sell for the best prices on the market, said Sinead Coleman, director of energy operations at HCG Power.

“A homeowner who gets a solar photovoltaic system generates a small amount of energy credits and can’t get the best price on their own,” Coleman said. “But since we manage a lot of these credits and buy them in bulk we can help get customers the best return on their investment.”

Coleman said HCG Power manages over $9.1 million worth of energy credits and constantly monitors the marketplace.

“Alternative energy credits were created to help stimulate the installation of renewable energy products,” Coleman said. “This is all about getting people off of using fossil fuels.”

Types of systems that could potentially qualify for the service, according to HCG Power, are certain solar photovoltaic (PV) hot water systems, pellet central heating systems, woodchip boilers, compost heat exchange systems, air source heat pumps and geothermal systems. Specifications of qualified systems are determined by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.

“We’re the only Massachusetts-based aggregator. We’re the only nonprofit and our program continues to grow,” Coleman said. “Our revenue that we generate, that money goes back into funding our services but also the community and local projects.”

Instructions for applying for the program on the state Department of Energy Resources urge property owners to use an aggregator to assist with the application process. “Owner should be aware of and carefully consider the aggregator’s contract terms and fees for the disposal of its members’ AECs,” the website says.

Noting that the program is relatively new, Coleman said that, so far, HCG has signed up a number of schools that have installed biomass technology, including Greenfield Community College.

For more information about HCG Power, see the organization’s ,