The proposed 2018 RI State Budget will “raid $12.5 million from ratepayer-funded, cost-effective energy efficiency programs” says nonprofit organizations Acadia Center and People’s Power & Light (PP&L) setting a “dangerous precedent.”
In a press release the two groups “emphasize that these are not state funds, they are rate-payer funds collected specifically to bring much-needed energy savings to all Rhode Islanders. Diverting the funds from the efficiency programs will cost Rhode Island ratepayers more money.”
In a letter, state lawmakers are urged to delete Budget Article I, Section 16 ahead of a House vote on the budget later today.
Over thirty organizations and individuals, “representing business, community, consumer, low income, public health, environmental, and clean energy interests,” have signed onto the letter. Signatories maintain that “the proposed budget is in effect taxing consumers for the use of their energy instead of using those funds to secure consumer savings… “Imposing a new energy tax would be extremely unfair to Rhode Island’s already burdened ratepayers, who have been promised tangible benefits in return for their efficiency funding.”
The letter goes onto say:
“Rhode Island’s energy efficiency programs generate immense economic value for the state. They bring millions of dollars in electricity and natural gas bill savings to all our residents and businesses, drive our growing clean energy economy, help low-income families reduce the difficult burden of high energy costs, and protect the health and prosperity of our local communities. Rhode Island’s Least Cost Procurement law – first implemented a decade ago and extended another five years in 2015 – is primarily responsible for the state’s continued leadership on economic efficiency. The General Assembly has unanimously recognized that the electric and natural gas distribution utility must invest in the lowest cost energy resource, energy efficiency, before more expensive energy supplies from outside Rhode Island. This is an economic strategy, not a social benefits program.”
“Given that saving energy costs less than buying it and it creates far more jobs than making energy from imported gas and oil, it seems weird to tax energy consumers. There must be better ways,” says Larry Chretien, Executive Director of People’s Power & Light.
“Recently the Office of Energy Resources released a report showing the importance of efficiency to the state’s economy. The report shows that clean energy jobs have grown 66 percent since 2014. In addition, according to the Energy Efficiency & Resource Management Council’s 2016 annual report, “Every $1 million invested in this sector leads to the creation of 45 job-years of employment, and every $1 invested boosts Gross State Product by $4.20.”
“Rhode Island’s ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs have provided $2.3 billion in economic benefits to residents and businesses since 2008, a fourfold return on investment,” said Erika Niedowski, Policy Advocate at Acadia Center. “Rhode Island has worked hard over the last decade to become a national leader on energy efficiency, and diverting these funds would cost ratepayers money and represent a big step backwards for our economy.”
Acadia Center is a non-profit, research and advocacy organization committed to advancing the clean energy future. People’s Power & Light’s mission is to make energy more affordable and environmentally sustainable in New England.