The Community Climate Fund
CET is wrapping up our third year of deploying our Community Climate Fund (CCF). The CCF is a vehicle for regional institutions and businesses to sponsor local, high-impact carbon reduction projects that help accelerate a just and equitable transition to the low-carbon economy. The fund started with an investment from Williams College in Williamstown, MA. Since 2019, Williams College has donated $300,000 to unlock a diverse portfolio of local carbon mitigation projects. Combined, these projects eliminated over 2,200 tons of lifetime CO2 emissions in Massachusetts, bolstered the financial stability of resource constrained residents and businesses, and improved the health and comfort of buildings.
Williams’ 2021-2022 investment enabled building material recovery from 38 homes and businesses, unlocked weatherization of six small businesses and nonprofits located in environmental justice communities across Massachusetts, sponsored a residential food scrap collection pilot in Williamstown, supported air source heat pump retrofits for two income-eligible customers in Ipswich, and provided a bridge loan to a cheese farmer in central Massachusetts that enabled installation of a ground-mounted solar PV array. Read on to learn more details on some of this year’s projects.
Chase Hill Farm solar PV installation
CET administers the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program, a joint project of CET and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). The program assists farms with implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions to reduce costs and the carbon footprint of their operations. We also help farms access state and federal incentives for these solutions, which are provided on a reimbursement basis. CET proposed a portion of the FY22 Community Climate Funds be used as a revolving loan fund to provide the bridge capital that farms need, to be repaid upon receipt of incentives.
CET initiated a bridge loan with Chase Hill Farm, a 270-acre dairy farm located in Warwick, MA. The family-owned farm has been in operation since 1957 and was named a 2011 Massachusetts Outstanding Dairy Farm by the University of Massachusetts Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment. The farmstead is certified organic, 100% grass-fed, and sells cheese and raw milk.
The bridge loan will support the purchase and installation of a ground-mounted, 30-panel solar photovoltaic (PV) system. The project is estimated to cost $70,500. The farm has secured two reimbursable grants, one from MDAR for $49,500 and the other from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for $19,500. The fund will contribute $20,000 as a bridge loan and it will be reimbursed upon disbursement of the grants in late summer or fall of 2022.
Assuming an estimated production of 16,700 kWh per year, the system will generate an annual return of $6,400 in net metering, SMART credits, and Connected Solutions credits, and will offset about 7.2 tons CO2 per year and over 140 tons CO2 over the system lifetime.