The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources has announced a plan to invest in clean energy, as well as reduce energy costs, by distributing $14 million in proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auctions.
RGGI, which was launched in 2009, allowed participating states to establish a cap on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fueled electric generating facilities. The power plants in these areas must possess a tradable carbon dioxide allowance for each ton that they emit, and these allowances are distributed through quarterly auctions.
“Rhode Island’s participation in RGGI is a vital component of the state’s energy and environmental policy framework. This plan will not only advance important energy goals, but it will also contribute to local economic growth by investing in carbon-free energy resources, including energy efficiency and renewable generation,” State Energy Commissioner Marion Gold said.
The $14 million will support a number of clean energy programs. Three million will support the capitalization of the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, and another $3.6 million will go towards supporting energy efficiency measures for residential, commercial, and industrial consumers. Two million more will support the installation of LED streetlights throughout the state, as well as support clean energy investments in state and municipal buildings. Another $300,000 will go toward funding residential rooftop solar panels.
LED streetlights will also be installed all along Rhode Island’s highways, not just within towns and cities. $2.8 million will be allocated towards that venture. Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti said that energy efficiency is a top priority.
“The conversion to LED streetlights not only has the potential of reducing statewide energy costs by approximately one million dollars per year, but it also demonstrates the financial benefits of good environmental stewardship,” he said.
The Office of Energy Resources also stated that the plan will support job growth along with enhancing sustainability.
“This is a smart plan that will grow jobs, reduce energy costs, and help protect our environment,” Governor Gina Raimondo said. “By investing in innovative clean energy initiatives like the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, Solarize Rhode Island, and energy efficiency programs, Rhode Island can help lead the nation towards a more sustainable energy future while also growing our economy.”
The financial impact is only one part, though. These investments also have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which will improve air quality throughout Rhode Island
“Each kilowatt-hour of energy saved or generated by a renewable energy source means one less kilowatt-hour generated from fossil fuel-fired sources,” said Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit. “Programs like these may start small, but the represent important steps forward toward achieving our greenhouse gas reduction goals and transitioning to a clean energy future.”
The Office of Energy Resources is currently taking public comment on the plan, and can be reached by emailing Barbara.Cesaro@energy.ri.gov, or by mailing One Capitol Hill, Providence, Rhode Island, 02908. There will be a public hearing on the proposal on July 29 at 10 am in Conference Room B on the second floor of One Capitol Hill.