Patrick Administration Announces Availability of Federally Backed Zero Interest Bonds for Renewable Energy Projects
Work begins on state college and correctional facility solar projects financed with previous round of Clean Renewable Energy Bonds
A component of clean energy funding made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, $1.6 billion in zero interest bonds are being offered nationwide. State and local governments, municipal electric companies, and electric cooperatives are each allocated one-third of the new CREBs. In anticipation of federal stimulus funding, Governor Patrick in December 2008 established 10 task forces to explore how the Commonwealth could best use the hundreds of millions of federal dollars expected to flow to Massachusetts for "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects. Both the Municipal Task Force, chaired by Lt. Governor Timothy Murray, and the Energy Task Force, headed by Secretary Bowles, identified a number of solar and other renewable energy projects that could benefit from CREB funding.
"Clean Renewable Energy Bonds are an essential tool for jumpstarting the installation of smaller scale solar and wind power in communities across Massachusetts, supporting job creation and helping the Commonwealth reach the ambitious clean energy benchmarks set by Governor Patrick," Secretary Bowles said.
Created by the Internal Revenue Service in 2006, the CREB program encourages the development of new renewable energy projects through zero interest loans for states and municipalities. By participating in the program, public entities save on both energy and borrowing costs. Borrowers make no interest payments because the bondholder receives a federal tax credit in lieu of interest income. The bonds can be issued by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance or by MassDevelopment, the state finance and development authority that works with businesses, financial institutions and local officials to stimulate economic growth.
"The expansion of the CREBs bonds through the stimulus bill underscores both the President's and the Governor's commitment to clean energy," said Jeffry Simon, director of Infrastructure Investment at the Executive Office of Administration and Finance. "It is an important part of our focus in the Recovery Plan on investments that will enhance the Massachusetts economy over the long term."
"The Patrick Administration continues to position Massachusetts as a national leader in green technology development and implementation," said Robert L. Culver, MassDevelopment president/CEO. "From working with us to issue the first-ever CREBs bonds to supporting our recently announced, first-in-state RFQ to design and build near zero-net energy housing in Devens, the Administration is putting in place new mechanisms to grow our economy by creating green jobs and new opportunities for businesses in the Commonwealth."
In November 2007, the Commonwealth, through MassDevelopment, closed on a round of CREB financing that provided over $3.1 million for solar photovoltaic (PV) installations at 12 state facilities. As part of Department of Energy Resources' Leading by Example Program, the first of those projects, a 100-kilowatt (kW) solar PV system on the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority's Residual/Odor Control Building at Deer Island, was installed last year. This spring, Worcester State College began work on a 100-kW project, and similar solar installations are expected before the start of the fall semester at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, North Shore Community College in Lynn, Salem State College, and Springfield Technical Community College. Established by Governor Patrick in 2007, the Leading by Example Program works to reduce the overall environmental impacts of state government. The program supports Governor Patrick's Executive Order 484, which established higher energy efficiency standards in the operation of state building and set short- and long-term targets for advancing clean energy and efficiency, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
This summer and fall will also see completion of CREB-financed solar projects at the Department of Correction's MCI-Bridgewater, MCI-Concord, MCI-Cedar Junction, MCI-Norfolk, and MCI-South Middlesex facilities. Still pending is a CREB-funded solar project at the Soldier's Home of Massachusetts in Chelsea.
"This federal money will be an important component to assist with all the good renewable development work we are doing on the state level and in helping communities come together to meet their energy goals," said Senator Michael W. Morrissey.
"As Secretary Bowles has so effectively advocated, we need to make big commitments at both the state and local levels toward the creation of renewables," said Senator Anthony Petruccelli. "The CREBs will help to spur these efforts for the Commonwealth's cities and towns, while also providing new job opportunities in an ever-expanding sector."
"Massachusetts clearly seeks to become one of the leaders in the country for clean renewable energy and, with the allocation of the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds becoming available to help municipalities across the Commonwealth fund solar, wind and other renewable power projects, our state is another step closer to that goal," said Representative William M. Straus.
"Once administered, these funds will serve to create jobs in already struggling cities and towns."
"Clean Renewable Energy Bonds are an important investment in our future, a future that must include a wide range of clean energy options," added Representative Barry R. Finegold. "Our local municipalities and state agencies are valuable partners in our work of creating and developing those options and these bonds will strengthen our communities and our state as we work towards our energy goals."
Investment in clean energy is a critical component of Governor Patrick's Massachusetts Recovery Plan, which combines state, federal and, where possible, private efforts to provide immediate and long-term relief and position the Commonwealth for recovery in the following ways:
- Deliver immediate relief by investing in the road, bridge and rail projects that put people to work today and providing safety net services that sustain people who are especially vulnerable during an economic crisis;
- Build a better tomorrow through education and infrastructure investments that strengthen our economic competitiveness, prepare workers for the jobs of the future and support clean energy, broadband and technology projects that cut costs while growing the economy; and
- Reform state government by eliminating the pension and ethics loopholes that discredit the work of government and revitalize the transportation networks that have suffered from decades of neglect and inaction.
For more information about what the federal recovery law means for Massachusetts, and for guidance on the use of CREB financing, please visit www.mass.gov/recovery www.mass.gov/recovery and click on Energy Recovery Opportunities.