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MBTA embracing renewable energy

The MBTA is preparing to embrace renewable energy in a big way and save money in the process.

The T, the largest consumer of electricity in the state, plans to sign a three-year contract for 70 percent of its forecasted electricity needs – and all of the power will be renewable.

The precise terms of the contract still need to be ironed out, but T officials said they expect the electricity will cost less than $12 million a year plus a premium of $859,000 for renewable energy credits, which provide assurance that the power is coming from renewable sources. The T’s current contract for electricity is $15.5 million a year with no renewable energy; the Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday authorized a three-year contract with a total cost no greater than $36 million, or $12.7 million a year.

Andrew Brennan, the T’s senior director for energy and environment, said one-third of the T’s current carbon footprint comes from its electricity usage. He said the new contract will offset 70 percent of that carbon output.

Brennan said the T is also exploring a number of other ways to embrace renewable energy. He said the T currently has wind turbine projects in Kingston and Bridgewater, solar projects at two subway stations, a geothermal project at the Hingham ferry terminal, and a solar canopy project with the potential to produce 25 megawatts of electricity.

The T also wants to get into the energy business more directly, buying solar power directly from developers and purchasing wind power directly from offshore wind farms, Brennan said.