Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo (D) on Wednesday signed a handful of bills aimed at expanding the state’s clean energy industry.
Among the bills was a 10 year extension of the renewable energy growth program, H 5274A and S 112A, that adds 400 MW of solar and wind capacity between 2020 and 2029.
- Other bills signed into law streamline the permitting process for solar power projects and for connecting renewable energy installations to the grid, allow farmers to build renewable energy projects on their land as long as they cover no more than 20% of total acreage, and expand virtual net metering.
Rhode Island is a small state but has taken a large role in renewable energy.
The state is the home of the 30 MW Block Island wind farm, which in 2016 became the first offshore wind farm in the country to reach commercial operation.
At Wednesday’s signing ceremony, Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) was joined by Energy Commissioner Carol Grant, Janet Coit, director of the Department of Environmental Management, and members of the General Assembly.
In March, Raimondo set a goal of increasing the state’s clean energy output tenfold by 2020 as a way of supporting 20,000 clean energy jobs. She cited the state’s 2017 Clean Energy Industry Report that tallied more than 15,300 clean energy workers across the state and said clean energy employment has grown by 66% since 2014, and 11% over the last year.
Among the other bills enacted in the recently concluded legislative session was a bill (S 108 and H 6305) requiring the state’s Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council to study a carbon pricing plan. A bill (S 365 and H 369) that would have required a statewide carbon tax on fossil fuels did not pass.
Rhode Island has a 38.5% by 2035 renewable portfolio standard. The RPS targeted 10% renewables for 2016, with an annual 1.5% increase until 2035.
"By streamlining permitting processes, simplifying land value taxation policy of renewables on farm lands and providing long-term stability to our renewable energy programs, we are taking important steps toward fostering a stronger clean energy economy," Raimondo said in a statement.