Commonwealth Hydropower Program

March 10, 2023


Note: The Commonwealth Hydropower Round 12 Solicitation closes March 31, 2023.

Through the Commonwealth Hydropower Initiative, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) offers grants for both feasibility studies and construction of hydroelectric facilities. The max possible grant amount is capped at $300,000 or 50% of actual costs. 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 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 must be 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), or Eversource -- that contribute to the Renewable Energy Trust Fund. 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 MLPs have joined the Renewable Energy Trust Fund.)


Projects applying for conduit facility feasibility funding must provide a 10% cost-share, while other feasibility study applicants must provide at least 20% cost-share. 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.

Evaluation Criteria

This is a competitive grant. All applications must meet minimum eligibility criteria and will be evaluated on the clarity of facility and project descriptions, compliance with dam safety regulations, satisfactory explanation of regulatory/licensing status, status of state renewable portfolio standard qualification, and incremental energy production. Projects applying for Design and Construction grants will also be evaluated on  thoroughness of feasibility analysis, technical considerations, an estimate of increased generation, ecological impacts, regulatory and permitting issues, project financing and financial feasibility, and risks identification and strategy for overcoming those risks. Awarded projects are required to meet project milestones, deliverables, and reporting deadlines.

Applications must be submitted according to MassCEC format guidelines; both hard copies and electronic copies are required. See the program website for details and for a complete application package. View the Round 12 Background and Instructions document here.

Program Overview

Implementing Sector: State
Category: Financial Incentive
State: Massachusetts
Incentive Type: Grant Program
Web Site:
Administrator: Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC)
Start Date: 09/2009
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:
  • Hydroelectric
  • Hydroelectric (Small)
Maximum Incentive: $300,000, up to 50% of the actual costs
Equipment Requirements: All projects must be qualified (or working to be) for Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard
Projects must have FERC license or exemption, have proof that they do not fall under FERC's jurisdiction, or be eligible for conduit exemption.


Name: Commonwealth Hydropower Initiative
Organization: Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
Address: 294 Washington St., 11th Floor
Boston MA 02108

This information is sourced from DSIRE; the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.