- Rhode Island lawmakers have approved a measure that would expand the state's renewable energy standard from 14.5% by 2019 to 38.5% by 2035, sending the measure to Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) for consideration, Solar Industry Magazine reports.
- The state first passed its renewable standard in 2004, and supporters of the expanded goal believe growing wind power in Rhode Island save power customers $240 million by 2050.
- The bill is considered to be part of the Rhode Island Senate’s “Grow green jobs RI Action Plan,” according to the American Wind Energy Association
Rhode Island is joining a growing list of states boosting their renewable energy goals.
The wind industry is hailing Rhode Island's plan, predicting more clean energy will reduce customer bills and draw green jobs to the state.
“With a turn of the Governor’s pen, Rhode Island can join a leading cohort of states raising their renewable energy targets in order to keep the air clean and cut costs,” Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said in a statement. “States with the best policies are going to attract the most business. By raising its Renewable Energy Standard, Rhode Island is sending the signal that it’s open for business to renewable energy developers who will invest billions of dollars into the state economy.”
Lawmakers in the Rhode Island House also attached an amendment to give state regulators more flexibility to delay a planned increase in the renewable goals in the event of an inadequate supply of renewable energy credits.
According to the group, wind farm investment in Rhode Island has attracted $20 million in capital investment to the state economy. And the Wind Energy Foundation believes that growing wind power in Rhode Island could result in $240 million in electricity bill savings by 2050 and up to $744 million in savings through lower gas prices.
The U.S.'s first offshore wind project, Deepwater Wind's 30 MW, five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm, is expected to start operating this summer off Rhode Island's coast.
Rhode Island's original renewable standard was passed in 2004, and targeted 3% renewable energy by 2007, rising 1.5% annually until 2020 to 16%. However, a freeze in implmenting the 1.5% annual increase dropped the goal to 14.5%. The most recent proposal, 2016-S 2185A/House 7413B, is considered to be part of state senate’s “Grow green jobs RI Action Plan."
Correction: The headline and a previous version of this article said Rhode Island lawmakers advanced a bill calling of for a 40% renewables standard, which is incorrect. The bill extended original renewables standard to 2035, but a delay in implementing the 1.5% annual increase means that the actual renewables standard will be 38.5%.