Senate passes bills to promote renewable energy

Legislation is part of the Senate’s Grow Green Jobs RI plan

STATE HOUSE, Providence – (RealEstateRama) — The Rhode Island Senate today passed a trio of bills aimed at promoting job growth in clean energy industries in the state. The bills extend and/or expand nationally recognized programs that foster renewable energy development.

Extend the Renewable Energy Standard.

One of the bills passed today ensures the state’s continued commitment to renewable energy by extending the Renewable Energy Standard, currently scheduled to end in 2019, to 2035. That legislation, 2016-S-2185, also gradually increases the percentage of electricity National Grid is required to purchase from renewable sources.

The legislation is sponsored by Senate Environment & Agriculture Committee Chairwoman V. Susan Sosnowski. In 2035, when it is fully phased in, Rhode Islanders will receive 40 percent of their electricity from renewable sources.

“Extending the Renewable Energy Standard lets investors and developers know that there will be continued demand for renewable energy beyond the currently scheduled end-date of 2019, fostering job growth in renewable industries,” said Sosnowski (D – Dist. 37, New Shoreham, South Kingstown). “This legislation promotes the diversification of the state’s energy supply portfolio and helps us to achieve carbon reduction goals.

Extend the Renewable Energy Development Fund.

Sen. William J. Conley, Jr. (D – Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket), is sponsor of another bill passed by the Senate today. His legislation, 2016-S-2450A, extends the successful Renewable Energy Development Fund (REF), which provides financing for renewable energy projects, for 10 additional years, to 2027.

In the past three years, the REF provided grants to 510 residential solar projects and 69 commercial projects. From 2013 to 2015, the REF awarded $9 million in grants, which leveraged $22 million in private investment.

“The Renewable Energy Fund has been very effective at facilitating the development of renewable energy at homes and businesses throughout the state,” said Conley. “Extension of the fund sends a signal to developers that Rhode Island continues to support clean energy businesses and job creation in the green sectors of our economy.”

Expand the Renewable Energy Growth Program.

Also passed today was legislation sponsored by Sen. William A. Walaska to expand the successful Renewable Energy Growth Program with an additional 400 MW of renewable energy over 10 years. The program provides a set price for the purchase of electricity by National Grid from small scale projects throughout the state.

The legislation, 2016-S-2181, extends the program to 2029. The program allows small renewable energy producers, such as homes with rooftop solar panels, to sell their surplus energy to national Grid at a set price over a set period of time (15 to 20 years). Such an agreement is critical for the financing of the small projects.

“The Renewable Energy Growth Program is supporting new clean energy investments and creating local jobs, including more than 180 residential solar projects located throughout the state,” said Walaska (D – Dist. 30, Warwick). “This nationally acclaimed program has been very successful at facilitating development of small scale projects, and its extension will help Rhode Islanders who want to invest in renewables, as well as the businesses who install them.”

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Also today, the Northeast Clean Energy Council presented President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed with their Clean Energy Champion Award in recognition of her work on the Senate’s Grow Green Jobs RI legislative action plan, which includes the three bills passed by the Senate. General Treasurer Seth Magaziner was also named a Clean Energy Champion today by the NECEC.

For more information, contact:
Greg Pare, Press Secretary for the Senate
State House Room 314
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 276-5558
State of Rhode Island General Assembly

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