Clean Energy Communities

Become a Clean Energy Community

Cities and towns can join the charge toward energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy through the Clean Energy Communities program. By following three easy steps, your community can demonstrate its leadership and can qualify for renewable energy systems and ”Bright Idea Grants” for energy-saving projects.

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Clean Energy Communities

Your community can come together to support energy efficiency and renewable energy, creating a cleaner future today and for generations to come. Jointly offered by the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority and the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund, the Clean Energy Communities program offers three simple steps to help community leaders, households, and local businesses work together to set clean energy goals and be rewarded for their achievements.

The three steps your town or city can take to become a Clean Energy Community are:

  1. Commit to the “Clean Energy Communities Municipal Pledge” to save energy in municipal buildings and voluntarily purchase renewable energy;
     
  2. Fulfill the Clean Energy Communities Municipal Pledge by taking actions to save energy and to support renewable energy voluntarily; and
     
  3. Earn energy efficiency and renewable energy points that can be redeemed for clean energy systems and grants for energy-saving projects.

 

Couldn’t attend the November 7, 2013 Energy Savings Performance Contracting Webinar? Click here to access the presentation. Watch a recording of the webinar here.

Couldn’t attend the August 1, 2013 Clean Energy Communities Program Update Webinar? Watch a recording of the webinar here.

Couldn’t attend the January 24, 2013 Regional Forum at Middlesex Community College? Click here to access all the presentations.


Step 1 – Commit to the “Clean Energy Communities Municipal Pledge”

Your community takes the first step toward becoming a Clean Energy Community by committing to the “Clean Energy Communities Municipal Pledge” to save energy in municipal buildings and voluntarily purchase renewable energy.

The Pledge must be signed by your town’s mayor, first selectman, or town manager and can be downloaded here. Once completed, it should be sent to communities@ctcleanenergy.com.

By signing the Pledge, your community demonstrates its support for energy efficiency and renewable energy by committing to:

  1. Reduce municipal building energy consumption by 20% by 2018,  according to the following schedule:
    • July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014:  8% Reduction
    • July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015:  11% Reduction
    • July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016:  14% Reduction
    • July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017:  17% Reduction
    • July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018:  20% Reduction
       
  2. Support voluntarily 20% of municipal building  electricity from clean, renewable sources by 2018, according to the following schedule*:
    • July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014: 16% Support
    • July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015: 17% Support
    • July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016: 18% Support
    • July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017: 19% Support
    • July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018: 20% Support

* Please note that a municipality may substitute certain percentages of the above targets by taking action steps to support clean energy (e.g., opting in to Commercial – Property Assessed Clean Energy (“C-PACE”), adopting streamlined permitting practices for renewable energy systems.)  The eligible measures and the substitution values are described under Step 2 of the program.

Visit the Online Dashboard

Be sure to visit the online dashboard to check on your community’s progress toward becoming a Clean Energy Community: If your town or city has not yet taken steps toward becoming a Clean Energy Community, contact your mayor, first selectman, town manager, or local clean energy task force to let them know about the program. If your town or city is already participating, get in touch with the local clean energy contact listed on your community’s page to find out how you can get involved.

Step 2 – Fulfill the Clean Energy Communities Municipal Pledge

After signing the Pledge (see Step 1), your community takes the next step toward becoming a Clean Energy Community by fulfilling the Pledge’s goals of saving energy in municipal buildings and voluntarily supporting renewable energy.

Save Energy in Municipal Buildings

To demonstrate its commitment to energy efficiency, your city or town must save energy in municipal buildings and document its savings according to the schedule outlined in the Pledge.

The first step in this process involves creating a Municipal Action Plan (MAP) describing how your community plans to save energy and purchase renewable energy. In order to create this plan, your city or town must measure municipal building energy use and compare it to a baseline year. This process is called “benchmarking.” 

CL&P's and UI's Clean Energy Communities team provides free technical assistance and support in helping communities fulfill their pledge to reduce energy consumption by 20% by 2018. Additionally, free periodic training on benchmarking and guidance on setting energy reduction goals is provided. Get started today and learn about the free benchmarking software (Portfolio Manager) and a free Benchmarking Starter Kit available through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Clean Energy Communities team also provides free technical assistance, guidance on setting energy reduction goals, and periodic trainings on benchmarking. Recorded webinars on Portfolio Manager are available for viewing anytime.

The benchmarking process requires the selection of a baseline year. The Clean Energy Communities program allows one of the following years to be used:

  • Baseline Year 2: July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010
  • Baseline Year 3: July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011
  • Baseline Year 4: July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012

Beginning July 1, 2015, communities must demonstrate that they are meeting the Pledge’s energy-saving goals in order to earn incentives for clean energy systems and ”Bright Idea Grants.”

Voluntarily Support Renewable Energy

To become a Clean Energy Community and earn rewards, your city or town must make qualifying renewable energy purchases and/or take action steps must meet the targets for the current fiscal year in accordance with the schedule outlined in the Pledge. Any purchases are in addition to mandatory clean energy requirements under the Renewable Portfolio Standard or "RPS” for Connecticut’s electric utilities.

To get started, your community should:

  1. Determine its total annual electricity usage for all municipal facilities including schools and street lights. (The most recent Fiscal Year, Calendar Year, or other recent 12-month period can be used).
     
  2. Multiply this total annual amount by the renewable energy support requirements outlined in the Clean Energy Communities Municipal Pledge.
     
  3. Voluntarily support renewable energy by:
  • (NEW) Taking municipal action steps to support clean energy.
    Municipalities can take numerous actions to help scale up deployment of clean energy in their community and throughout the state.  Because these actions can provide a critical foundation for achieving these goals, municipalities will receive credits towards their Renewable Energy commitment in percentages described below.

    • Opt in to the Commercial – Property Assessed Clean Energy (“C-PACE”) financing program.
      Your town’s legislative body must sign an agreement with CEFIA, pursuant to which the municipality agrees to assess, collect, remit and assign, benefit assessments to CEFIA in return for energy improvements for benefited property owners within the municipality. For more information, please visit www.c-pace.com. Substitution Value = 10%  (Note - All substitution values are based on percentages of annual electricity use and not annual renewable energy targets.)

    • Endorse the CT Rooftop Solar PV Permitting Guide. This convenient manual includes tools and measures to simplify permitting and administrative processes for solar PV installation (available October 2013).  Municipalities must first endorse the Guide and then have the option of adopting some or all of the measures contained therein.   For more information, please see www.EnergizeCT.com/sunriseNE or submit questions to Sunshot@ctcleanenergy.com. Substitution Value per measure (maximum 5%):

      • Adopt solar PV permit application package (1%)
      • On-line permitting (0.5%)
      • Solar-friendly permitting fee structure (1% if fee waived, 0.5% if fee capped at an amount less than or equal to $200)
      • Establish procedure for structural review (1%)
      • Solar training for permitting staff (0.5%)
      • Improve review and inspection processes (0.5%)
      • Adopt model PV ordinance (0.5%)

    • Enter into Energy Savings Performance Contract
      Through the Lead by Example program led by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, municipalities can implement a portfolio of comprehensive energy savings measure with no upfront capital.  The costs of the energy retrofits are paid for by future guaranteed savings from utility and maintenance budgets. For more information, please visit http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=4405&Q=513642  or contact Lynn.Stoddard@ct.gov. Substitution Value = 1-5% (subjective depending on scope)

    • Adopt Stretch Building Codes or Renewable-Friendly Ordinances
      In the near future, your town may be able to voluntarily choose to require higher levels of energy efficiency in new buildings or major renovations than is required under the state’s basic building code. A “stretch building code” first requires legislative authorization and is therefore not currently available in Connecticut.  In the meantime, a town can adopt measures such as “Green Building Code” for municipal facilities that would inspire others within the community to follow its lead.  Similarly, a town can enact a renewable-friendly ordinance that would facilitate the installation of certain technologies (such as wind turbines).  For more information, contact Bob.Wall@ctcleanenergy.com Substitution Value = 1-10% (subjective depending on scope)

    • Undertake Outreach Campaigns
      Your community or task force can conduct targeted outreach campaigns to promote renewable energy installations, energy efficiency upgrades, fuel conversions or even utilization of financing products by residents and businesses.  These efforts can not only earn points for the community but also will help the town meet its commitment to support renewable energy.  Campaign examples include Solarize ConnecticutSM, C-PACE outreach to commercial property owners and “smart energy” finance initiatives to encourage residential energy improvements. For more information, contact Robert.Schmitt@ctcleanenergy.com  Substitution Value = 1-5% (subjective depending on scope; substitution valid in campaign year only.)
  • Purchasing “Green-e certified” Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) from a  renewable energy supplier, such as Community Energy or 3Degrees.
    This option provides your community the flexibility to consider the quantity, technology, location and price of your desired renewable energy product. Click here for more information on renewable energy suppliers.

  • Participating in the CTCleanEnergyOptions program
    It is recommended that you call both of the independent companies selected for this program to schedule a presentation and learn more about available incentive plans.

  • Installing a clean energy system at a municipal facility.
    For an installation to qualify, the RECs must be quantifiable and (NEW) may be counted whether held by a third party or retained. Furthermore, you are also allowed to count the RECs associated with systems earned through this program.

  • Pursuing any combination of the above options.

 

Example of how to meet Renewable Energy Commitment

1. Annual electricity use at municipal facilities = 10,000,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh)

2. Voluntary percentage requirement for Fiscal Year 2014 = 16% or 1,600,000 kWh which can also be expressed as 1,600 Megawatt-hours (MWh)

3. How the community can meet its goal:

A. Town opts into C-PACE = 10% or 1,000 MW
B. Town installs 100 kW solar PV system on school, which generates 120 MWh
C. Town purchases 480 MWh of Green-e certified RECs

Total including substitution values - 1,600 MWh

Visit the Online Dashboard

Be sure to visit the online dashboard to check on your community’s progress toward becoming a Clean Energy Community.  If your town or city has not yet taken steps toward becoming a Clean Energy Community, contact your mayor, first selectman, town manager, or local clean energy task force to let them know about the program. If your town or city is already participating, get in touch with the local clean energy contact listed on your community’s page to find out how you can get involved.


Step 3 – Earn Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Points for Rewards

Communities that have committed to the “Clean Energy Communities Municipal Pledge” and have fulfilled the Pledge’s requirements can earn energy efficiency and renewable energy points that can be redeemed for clean energy systems and ”Bright Idea Grants” for energy-saving projects.

Earn Energy Efficiency Points for “Bright Idea Grants”

Once qualified as a Clean Energy Community, your town or city can earn energy efficiency points that can be redeemed for “Bright Idea Grants” for energy-saving projects.

To qualify for a Bright Ideas Grant, your city or town must earn 100 energy efficiency points by participating in Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund programs. Grants range in size from $5,000 to $15,000 and can be used toward energy-saving projects in your community. Click here for an overview of the Bright Idea Grant (PDF).

Energy efficiency points are rewarded for the following activities:

Points Activity
Awarded for every 1% of households that participate in the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund’s residential programs: the Home Energy Solutions program, the Home Energy Solutions Income-Eligible program, the Residential New Construction program, and the Home Energy Solutions Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program. Participation is retroactive back to January 1, 2010.
Awarded for every 1% of households who redeem rebates for energy-efficient technologies. Participation is retroactive back to January 1, 2010.
4Awarded for every 1% of commercial or municipal entities who participate in a Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund business or municipal program, such as the Small Business Energy Advantage program or the Energy Opportunities program. Participation is retroactive back to January 1, 2010.
1-10Awarded for special project points for communities that host or promote a special energy conservation program or energy-saving project project must be initiated after January 1, 2012.


Earn Renewable Energy Points for Clean Energy Systems

Once qualified as a Clean Energy Community, your town or city can earn renewable energy points that can be redeemed for clean energy systems. Your community can receive a 1 kilowatt (kW) (or equivalent value) clean energy system by earning one of the following:

  • 100 renewable points in your community;
     
  • 100 renewable energy points in your regional school district (RSD).
    Any town within the RSD that commits to the Pledge and makes a minimum clean, renewable energy purchase may pool its points with another town or towns in the same RSD (provided they have also made the Pledge).
     
  • Renewable energy points equivalent to 10% of the households in your community (if your town has less than 1,000 households).

Renewable energy points are rewarded for the following activities:

Points Activity - Residential
3Awarded for each completed residential energy project including renewable energy systems (other than solar hot water – see below), fuel conversions, energy efficiency upgrades (excluding projects also funded by the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund) and electric vehicle charging systems within your community funded or financed by the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA).

Communities with fewer than 1,000 households shall earn: 3 points x (the number of households/1,000).
5Awarded for each completed residential solar hot water system financed by CEFIA.

Communities with fewer than 1,000 households shall earn: 5 points x (the number of households/1,000).
1Awarded for each application for the following CEFIA residential financing products: Smart-E Loan, Cozy Loan, CT Solar Loan and CT Solar Lease. (Please note that this is in addition to the 3 points awarded if the financing is used to install a clean energy system, undertake a fuel conversion, an energy efficiency improvement or electric vehicle charging station.) 
0.5Awarded for each sign-up to CTCleanEnergyOptions program within your community, regardless of whether a customer signs up at the 50% or 100% level (includes signups for Community Energy, 3 Degrees and Sterling Planet).

 

Points Activity - Commercial
20Awarded for each completed commercial energy project including renewable energy systems, fuel conversions, energy efficiency upgrades and electric vehicle charging systems within your community financed by the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA) (e.g., C-PACE, Project 150, Energy Savings Performance Contracting, CT Solar Lease).

Communities with fewer than 1,000 households shall earn: 20 points x (the number of households/1,000).
5Awarded for each application for the following CEFIA commercial financing: C-PACE, Project 150, Energy Savings Performance Contracting, CT Solar Lease. (Please note that this is in addition to the 20 points awarded for a completed commercial project.)

Communities with fewer than 1,000 households shall earn: 5 points x (the number of households/1,000).

 

 


Earn Bonus Renewable Energy Rewards

Your community can earn bonus renewable energy rewards by achieving special milestones or taking actions to accelerate renewable energy adoption. In order for your city or town to qualify, it must already qualify as a Clean Energy Community.

Bonus renewable energy rewards are available for the following activities:

 

bonus rewards Activity

BONUS 3 kW solar PV or other clean energy technology installation*


* Must be added to kW (or equivalent) earned through program

Clean Energy Leadership Award

Awarded annually to large, medium and small communities based on overall achievement in support for clean energy.  Factors to be considered include deployment of clean energy in the community, participation in CEFIA financing programs, action steps taken by municipality to support clean energy (e.g., opting into C-PACE, adopting streamlined permitting practices for solar PV, local outreach campaigns).
BONUS 1kW solar PV or other clean energy technology installation*

* Must be added to kW (or equivalent) earned through program
EPA Green Power Communities Achievement Award

Awarded to every city or town that achieves status as an Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Community, according to the following targets:
  • If a community’s total annual electricity use is less than 10,000MWh, then green power purchase should be at least 6%.
  • If a community’s total annual electricity use is between 10,000-100,000MWh, then green power purchase should be at least 3%.
  • If a community’s total annual electricity use is more than 100,00 MWh, then green power purchase should be at least 2%.

 

Visit the Online Dashboard

Be sure to visit the online dashboard to check on your community’s progress toward becoming a Clean Energy Community. If your town or city has not yet taken steps toward becoming a Clean Energy Community, contact your mayor, first selectman, town manager, or local clean energy task force to let them know about the program. If your town or city is already participating, get in touch with the local clean energy contact listed on your community’s page to find out how you can get involved.