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New Legislation Promotes Solar Energy Expansion in RI

August 12, 2016

With newly expanded net metering laws and more accessible solar power, RI is certainly making great strides on the renewable energy front.

Rhode Island is shining a bit brighter these days. Governor Gina M. Raimondo and other RI legislators have signed a ceremonial bill that will enhance the Ocean State’s renewable energy policies. As covered in a blog I wrote last year, “RI Renewable Energy Growth Program,” as well as my blog from 2014, “More Options for Financing Renewable Energy Projects in Rhode Island” the state has been encouraging the growth of renewable energy use through various projects and initiatives, most recently through the expansion of net metering.

Refresh Your Memory: RI Renewable Energy Growth Program

The RI Renewable Energy Growth Program (REG) was introduced last year. Some highlights of the program:

  • Available to eligible renewable distributed generation (DG) projects;
  • Gives customers the opportunity to sell their generation output under long term tariffs at fixed prices;
  • Funds projects through a competitive performance-based incentive system;
  • Replaces the Distributed Generation Standard Contracts Program (in place since 2011).

Over the course of five years, the REG program is expected to add 160 megawatts of renewable energy to Rhode Island’s electric grid.

Refresh Your Memory: Commerce RI’s Renewable Energy Fund

Commerce RI’s Renewable Energy Fund (REF) was introduced in 2014. Some of the highlights of the REF program:

  • Grants of up to $350,000 for eligible renewable energy projects;
  • Businesses, institutions, non-profits, municipalities and multi-unit residential properties are eligible for the program;
  • Funds are available on a first come basis, which are applied for during 4 application periods as outlined.

Building up RI’s clean energy economy

In efforts to reduce the state’s carbon footprint and further the efforts of the RI Renewable Energy Growth Program, Governor Gina Raimondo has signed legislation (H. 8354A) which:

  1. Expands Net metering (most notable part of the new legislation);
  2. Reduces solar taxes (sales tax on solar equipment)

These efforts have attracted the attention of several solar and other renewable energy installers, which is leading to tremendous job growth in the renewable energy sector in Rhode Island.

What is net metering?
Net metering is a system that allows consumers who generate some or all of their own electricity to be credited for the full retail value of the electricity they generate, meaning any electricity not used can be fed back into the grid and the consumer will be credited for what they add.

Net metering in RI

Efforts to expand net metering in RI have gone through under recent legislation that expands the REG program and further promotes the expansion of alternative energy in RI. The legislation expands the state’s net metering service offerings.

There are some requirements that Rhode Islanders will have to adhere to in order to reap the benefits of net metering; this includes:

Using an eligible renewable energy resource:

  1. Small hydro facilities (employs one or more hydroelectric turbine generators; aggregate capacity to not exceed 30 megawatts)
  2. Solar PV or concentrated solar power
  3. Wind powered facilities
  4. Biomass facilities using eligible biomass fuels and maintaining compliance with current air permits
  5. Ocean-heat or geothermal energy
  6. Fuel cells using the renewable resources referenced in numbers 1-5
  7. Waste-to-energy (generally not considered eligible, however agricultural waste, and other fuel not mixed with other solid wastes does apply)

Using a resource that is not sized to exceed:

  • 3 year average on-site load
  • 5MW AC aggregate generating capacity

This expanded net metering policy allows Rhode Islanders to financially balance out the total amount of energy imported from the grid with the total amount of energy exported over the course of a typical billing period (one month). The customer would only be billed/credited for the net difference between these two values, a notable improvement from the previous policy which did not necessarily match on-site electric power consumption on a “moment-to-moment basis”.

This new legislation, Governor Raimondo hopes, will reduce the state’s carbon footprint and open more opportunities for all Rhode Islanders to enjoy the value of alternative energy.

KLR has helped numerous clients evaluate and execute solar and other renewable energy projects. We can help your company make its solar dreams a reality. Reach out to our Renewable Energy Services Team for more information.

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