Commonwealth Hydropower Program (Massachusetts)

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Last modified on December 17, 2014.

Financial Incentive Program

Place Massachusetts

Name Commonwealth Hydropower Program
Incentive Type State Grant Program
Applicable Sector Commercial, Industrial, Nonprofit, Local Government, State Government, Tribal Government, Fed. Government, Institutional
Eligible Technologies Hydroelectric, Small Hydroelectric
Active Incentive Yes

Implementing Sector State/Territory
Energy Category Renewable Energy Incentive Programs
Amount Design and Construction: 50% of costs or 1.00 per incremental kWh per year

Feasibility study: 80% of costs

Equipment Requirements All projects must be qualified (or working to be) for Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard

The portion of the facility capacity attributable to increased capacity and efficiency improvements implemented after 1997 must not exceed 30 MW
Projects must have FERC license or exemption, or have proof that they do not fall under FERC's jurisdiction, or be eligible for conduit exemption.

Start Date 09/2009

Funding Source Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust

Installation Requirements Non-conduit feasibility projects must result in an increase in energy generation by at least 200,000 kWh/year (average) and all construction and design projects must result in an increase in energy generation by at least 50,000 kWh per year.

Maximum Incentive Design and Construction: 600,000

Feasibility study: 40,000

Program Administrator Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC)
Date added to DSIRE 2009-09-17
Last DSIRE Review 2013-03-19

References DSIREDatabase of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency[1]


Note: This program reopened March 15, 2013. There is $1,200,000 available for Round 5; applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until funding is exhausted. See the program web site for application materials.

Through the Commonwealth Hydropower Initiative, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) offers grants for both feasibility studies and construction of hydroelectric facilities. Feasibility studies are capped the lesser of $40,000 or 80% of actual costs. Construction projects are capped at the lesser of $600,000, 50% of actual costs, or $1.00 per incremental kWh per year for projects that increase an existing system capacity. Hydropower facilities must have qualified (or be expected to qualify) for Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard. MassCEC is the administrator of the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust Fund, the state's clean energy fund.

Applicants must have and demonstrate site control (meaning that they have legal control of the project site, through executed agreement or selection to enter into an agreement). In addition, the project must demonstrate an additional 200,000 kilowatt hours/year (non-conduit feasibility grants) or 50,000 kWh/year (design and construction grants) increase in generation and have at least 20 years of useful life. Projects must have a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license or exemption, or a FERC order stating that the facility does not fall under FERC jurisdiction (not common), or the projects must be eligible for a conduit exemption. Projects that require new dams are not eligible.

Projects applying for feasibility funding must provide a 20% cost-share, while design and construction project applicants are responsible for at least 50% cost-share. It should be noted that applicants are encouraged to request less than the maximum allowed funding since cost effectiveness is considered in the application evaluations.

This is a competitive grant. All applications must meet minimum eligibility criteria and will be evaluated on the thoroughness of facility and project descriptions, compliance with dam safety regulations, satisfactory explanation of regulatory/licensing status, status with state renewable portfolio standard qualification and incremental energy production. Projects applying for Design and Construction grants will also be evaluated on economic analysis criteria, thoroughness of feasibility analysis, technical feasibility, efficiency and environmental benefits, development progress and time frame, risks identification and strategy for overcoming those, cost effectiveness, and potential benefits to state ratepayers. Awarded projects are required to meet project milestones, deliverables and reporting deadlines.

Projects must owned by commercial, industrial, institutional (including not-for-profit), or public entities served by one of the investor-owned electric distribution utilities in Massachusetts -- Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light (Unitil), Massachusetts Electric (National Grid), Nantucket Electric (National Grid), NSTAR Electric, or Western Massachusetts Electric -- that contribute to the Renewable Energy Trust. In addition, customers of any Municipal Light Plant (MLP) Department that pays into the Renewable Energy Trust are also eligible (see MassCEC's website for additional information on which MLP's have joined the Renewable Energy Trust Fund).

Applications must be submitted according to MassCEC format guidelines, both hard copies and electronic copies are required. See the program web site for details and for a complete application package.

Incentive Contact

Contact Name Commonwealth Hydropower Initiative
Department Massachusetts Clean Energy Center

Address 55 Summer Street, 9th Floor

Place Boston, Massachusetts
Zip/Postal Code 02110


  • Incentive and policy data are reviewed and approved by the N.C. Solar Center's DSIRE project staff.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1  "Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency"