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How Municipalities Are Saving Money and Energy through MAPC’s Peak Demand Notification Program

October 24, 2016 – 1:05 pm |

For most of us, paying for electricity means paying for what we use. Municipalities do that, too, but they also have to pay something called a capacity charge for their large accounts. This is a …

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Clean Energy, Planning »

How Municipalities Are Saving Money and Energy through MAPC’s Peak Demand Notification Program

October 24, 2016 – 1:05 pm |

For most of us, paying for electricity means paying for what we use. Municipalities do that, too, but they also have to pay something called a capacity charge for their large accounts. This is a charge assessed by ISO-New England, the grid operator, to ensure account holders pay in proportion to their usage and that there is enough electric “capacity” available on the grid. The charge is calculated for each account on the basis of its demand during the grid’s annual peak hour that year: the one hour of that year during which grid-wide demand was at its highest. It is like children being put on Santa’s nice list according to their behavior not over the whole year, but over a single hour.

Capacity Charge Math


If a large account can shut down large energy consuming systems during the peak hour, it can reduce its demand and significantly decrease its capacity charge for the whole year. The question is, which hour is it?

This is where MAPC’s Peak Demand Notification program can help cities and towns.  Our program, now in its second year, helps municipalities manage capacity costs for their biggest energy users (often the High School, Middle School, City Hall and Library).

We know that every year, the peak demand hour occurs on one summer weekday afternoon – but narrowing down the forecast to the particular afternoon and hour takes additional work.
Using historical data on ISO-New England’s website, we defined three levels of risk that the peak demand hour would occur on any particular day:  UNLIKELY, POSSIBLE, or LIKELY.  We apply these levels of risk to ISO New England’s daily forecast of what the peak demand will be and when it will occur, and send our risk warnings to subscribers.


In our first year (summer of 2015), ten cities and towns participated. They achieved an average electricity reduction of 51% during the peak hour, and we conservatively estimate that they reduced a total of 15,245 KW across five load sheds. This translates to 6.7 metric tons of  avoided (about the equivalent of one car driving on the road for a year). Additionally, the actions they took garnered an estimated total savings of $261,905 (average of $29,100 per community – nine communities). All the communities deserve to be congratulated, but the biggest load-shedder was the Acton-Boxborough School District, which reduced its demand by 80% and saved approximately $75,000.


This past summer, the program grew to 45 participating municipalities. We also had our first commercial business and a university participate in the notification program. While the data from this summer is still being collected, we can conservatively estimate that if at least ten additional communities took action to load-shed during the peak hour, we will have doubled our impact from the first year of the program.

Aside from some significant financial savings, and moderate energy and emissions reductions, the actions communities are taking are creating efficiencies in other important ways. At times of peak demand, grid operators like ISO New England are required to call upon some of the dirtiest power sources available to meet our electricity needs, making the emissions and pollution implications even greater. As more communities and businesses reduce demand during this time, the need for such sources can potentially be eliminated. As cities and towns start to manage their energy use more aggressively throughout the year, not just during the peak hour during the summer, we will hopefully begin to see a reduction of energy use grid-wide and deeper savings for individual communities.

If you’re interested in learning more about MAPC’s Peak Demand program please visit MAPC’s website.  If you have any additional questions or want to sign up for the program next year, email


Neal Duffy, Clean Energy Intern

8th Annual Shannon Grant Basketball Tournament

September 13, 2016 – 1:22 pm |

On August 6th, the communities involved in the Metro Mayors Shannon Grant Community Safety Initiative came together for the 8th Annual Metro Mayors Basketball Tournament, organized by MAPC.

The tournament was held at Trum Field in …

New App Helps Inner Core Residents Keep Cool!

August 11, 2016 – 1:36 pm |

Keep Cool this summer!

In partnership with the Metro Mayor’s Coalition, MAPC’s Digital Services has launched a digital initiative on climate change and heat safety called “Keep Cool.” Residents across the 14 Metro Mayors communities can …

Municipal Light Departments in Massachusetts: What are they and why should you care?

August 3, 2016 – 9:12 am |

Quick Link: Municipal Light Plants in Massachusetts: Spotlight on Clean Energy Initiatives
For most communities in Massachusetts, electricity is provided by an Investor Owned Utility (IOU) such as National Grid, or Eversource. For some, though, electric …

Rapid Health Impact Assessments

July 26, 2016 – 3:07 pm |

MAPC’s Public Health Department has been conducting Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) for the past five years. Working with partners like the MA Department of Public Health and Health Resources in Action, MAPC has explored multiple …

MAPC Partners with Tufts University on Food Access Mapping

May 25, 2016 – 4:36 pm |

Staff from MAPC’s Public Health and Data Services departments partnered with students from Tufts University this spring to analyze access to healthy food across Massachusetts. Food access is a fundamental element to healthy neighborhoods. Where …

Communities Find New Ways to Access Cleaner, More Affordable Energy

April 1, 2016 – 2:19 pm |

By Cammy Peterson, Clean Energy Director at MAPC.
Cross-posted from the Barr Foundation blog.
How leading cities and towns in Massachusetts are scaling up renewable energy while bringing cost savings to their residents.

When your electricity bill comes …

Food Planning for the 21st Century

February 4, 2016 – 2:32 pm |

In December 2015 MAPC and allies released the first food policy plan for the state of Massachusetts since the 1970s. The Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan is a planning guide rich with recommendations for the 21st century economy, …

City of Cambridge Business Continuity & Emergency Preparedness Planning

January 19, 2016 – 1:33 pm |

MAPC and the City of Cambridge Community Development Department (CDD) partnered in February 2015 to develop post-emergency business continuity and emergency preparedness strategies for small businesses in Cambridge.
All businesses are vulnerable to both natural and …

NERAC Cache Equipment Deployment Table Top Exercise

November 23, 2015 – 11:05 am |

MAPC serves as the Statewide Fiduciary for the four Massachusetts Homeland Security Regions under a grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS). Additionally, MAPC provides planning and facilitation services for …

MAPC 2015 Fall Council Meeting

November 5, 2015 – 1:06 pm |

MAPC’s October 29 Fall Council Meeting was teeming with optimism as attendees were invited to celebrate the agency’s successes and look positively toward the future of planning in the Greater Boston region.
MAPC President Lynn Duncan …