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Massachusetts utilities look to buy renewable energy to power 136,000 homes

Massachusetts utility companies are preparing to buy enough renewable energy to power 136,000 homes as part of a major initiative announced by Governor Charlie Baker on Thursday.

The companies may buy up to 817 gigawatt-hours of electricity per year under a request for proposals being prepared by utility companies in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. State officials said the tri-state process is meant to streamline the bidding process for utilities, which are required by laws in each state to increase their purchases of green energy.

Under Massachusetts law, utilities like National Grid and Eversource have to solicit bids for long-term renewable energy contracts to supply 4 percent of their total electrical load. The last time the utilities solicited contracts, in 2013, three companies initially signed on to develop six wind farms that would feed the New England power grid. But some of the companies withdrew their proposals, leaving the state’s utilities with just under 2 percent of their electrical load covered by the long-term contracts.

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A draft of the request for proposals stipulates that companies could propose building new renewable generating capacity, such as solar panels and wind turbines, or they could propose projects to transmit renewable energy into New England from faraway installations such as Canadian hydroelectric dams.

Jack Newsham can be reached at jack.newsham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.