Department or Program

Environmental Studies


The goal of this report is to articulate the importance of understanding the grid and “what is behind one’s light switch”. This paper provides an introduction into the discussion around Massachusetts electrical energy distribution and supply as it relates to the use of net metering, solar energy, and natural gas for the production of electricity. There are multiple other energy sources including coal, nuclear, hydro, and wind that are used for the production of electric power in New England. Coal-fired power plants and nuclear facilities are currently two significant Massachusetts energy sources that are in the process of being phased out. Natural gas and renewable energy options are beginning to play larger roles in the energy mix of Massachusetts and New England. Hydro and wind are two other renewable energy sources that are part of the future of energy production for New England. However, for the purposes of this paper, solar and natural gas were the two selected energy sources for discussion as they are two major contemporary subjects of discourse. As of winter 2015, natural gas accounts for 44 percent of the electricity production in New England and is projected to increase to 50 percent by 2030. Solar continues to be an increasing energy source both on residential and commercial scale. The means by which solar is financially organized however, is in need of review.

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

First Advisor

Misty Beck

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file


Available to Bates community via local IP address or Bates login.