LIVIA GERSHON – SPECIAL TO THE WORCESTER BUSINESS JOURNAL
Worcester Business Journal, Feb 17, 2014 – Once upon a time, if you wanted to make things in North Central Massachusetts, you built your mill on a river, or dug a canal, and took advantage of a natural power source. Today, some local manufacturers still do something similar, using hydropower, solar or wind power on site, but, for the most part, plants have to buy their electricity off the grid.
That can be a problem, since the area has relatively high electricity rates, which can hurt factories’ ability to compete globally, according to John Harden, economic development specialist at North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce.
“The Northeast in general has some of the highest rates in the country,” he said.
Now the chamber has struck a deal that will allow some manufacturers to take advantage of locally produced energy, in a sort of roundabout fashion. A Rhode Island company that’s building a solar power plant in Lunenburg will sell its net metering credits — essentially, payment from power company Unitil for solar power that’s contributed to its system — to local businesses. Harden said several manufacturers have already signed on to buy the credits, which should generate a gross savings of about $80,000 a year, or between $3,000 and $6,000 per business once they’re divided up.