Jerry Elmer, Senior Attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), will today speak in favor of extending Rhode Island’s “highly successful” Renewable Energy Standard (RES) before the House Committee on Corporations. RES was first passed in 2004 and scheduled run until 2019, unless it is renewed, per the current bill, to run until 2035.
According to Elmer, who made an advanced copy of his testimony available, “In June 2004, when this General Assembly enacted Rhode Island’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES)… Rhode Island was a pioneer. We were one of the first states to enact such a renewable energy mandate. The statute that this legislature enacted then was correctly seen as an experiment. The new statute obligated Rhode Island’s electricity utility to buy some of its electricity from renewable energy sources. As you know, the obligation started quite small, 3 percent of load in 2007, and it was to ramp up to 16 percent of load in 2019.”
Elmer goes on to say,
Not every statute this General Assembly enacts is successful; and not every law works as the legislature intends for it to work. But the RES Statute that you enacted in 2004 has been extremely successful; and it has worked pretty much the way you intended it to work.
“I know this to be true from first-hand experience. Since the RES was enacted in 2004, CLF has been a party in every proceeding at the Public Utilities Commission that has enforced the statute.
“When Rhode Island adopted its RES mandate in 2004, we were a true pioneer. Today, 29 states have mandatory renewable energy laws, including five of the six New England states (all except Vermont) as well as New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Arizona. and New Mexico.
“Some, like California’s, are more aggressive than Rhode Island’s; but none has worked more according to plan than Rhode Island’s.
“Of course, the RES Statute you designed in 2004 ends it annual ramp-up in 2019. Thus, now is the time to extend the RES Statute until 2035. Eleven years ago, you enacted a new experimental statute; your idea was to re-visit the statute after a decade in order to determine whether or not it worked, and whether or not it was worth extending. Today. we have the answer to that question: the statute has been extremely successful. Yes, the RES should be extended.”