Mass. gives $32 million for renewable heating, cooling projects

By Anna Simet | November 07, 2013

Massachusetts is enticing residents, businesses and public agencies to reduce emissions and heating and cooling costs by making $32 million available to seven programs that will fund renewable heating and cooling projects.

The official announcement was made at an event at the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Quabbin Reservoir Visitors Center, where the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources funded the installation of a wood pellet-fired furnace in 2008. According to the DOER, the system has since reduced fuel oil usage and costs at the visitor’s center by more than 60 percent, an average of $30,000 in annual savings over the last three years.

”We’re planting seeds to grow the renewable thermal energy sector and learn what works,” said DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia. “With these programs and incentives, more businesses, institutions and municipalities will be able to pursue clean, renewable, local and sustainable energy to heat and cool their buildings. That’s a very good thing for this and future generations.”

Programs selected for funding include:

The Schools and Public Housing Integrating Renewables and Efficiency Program, which is funded by a $715,000 U.S. DOE grant to provide K-12 public schools and state public housing with feasibility grants for biomass and solar thermal heating, heat pumps and district heating and cooling projects. SAPHIRE projects can leverage $10 million in federal, low-cost bond financing and Mass Save energy efficiency rebates. SAPHIRE projects can also supplement financing with Alternative Compliance Payments grants through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Department of Housing and Community Development.

Low-Income Energy Affordability Network, which was funded with $1 million from the MassCEC and provides grants to funding assistance to renewable thermal projects at low-income housing facilities.

Renewable Thermal Commercial Pilot Grants, which was funded with $4.3 million in ACP funds administered by MassCEC and provides funding for commercial biomass, geothermal heat pumps, and district heating and cooling projects.

Renewable Thermal Business Investment Financing Program, which was funded with $3 million in ACP funds and will provide financial support to establish or expand distribution, manufacturing or marketing of renewable thermal technologies in Massachusetts.

Leading by Example Clean Energy Grants, which was granted $2.5 million in ACP funds and will fund biomass, heat pumps, solar hot water, and combined heat and power projects. The grants are available to state agencies, authorities and public colleges and universities.


The Clean Energy Program at state public housing authority facilities, which was launched in 2012 with $2 million in ACP funds. This DHCD program is underway and has spurred numerous renewable heating and cooling projects throughout the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Program, which was funded with $9 million from MassCEC and provides grants for solar thermal hot water heating projects. The grants are available for residential, commercial, non-profit and public building projects.

Heating and cooling make up approximately one-third of Massachusetts’ total energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and the average Massachusetts household spends $1,700 annually on heating, with the majority of that money flowing out of the region for fossil fuel energy sources such as oil, propane, and natural gas.