Providence, R.I., June 22, 2016 — American wind power applauded the Rhode Island Legislature today for advancing the state’s renewable energy target from 14.5 percent by 2019 to 40 percent by 2035. The new law, once signed by Gov. Gina Raimondo, will ensure Rhode Island homeowners and businesses have greater access to renewable energy, including clean, low-cost wind energy.
“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,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “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.”
Wind farm investment in Rhode Island has attracted $20 million in total capital investment to the state economy. According to the Wind Energy Foundation, 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 bill, 2016-S 2185A/House 7413B, considered to be part of the Senate’s “Grow green jobs RI Action Plan,” updates the state’s previous Renewable Energy Standard (RES), originally set in June 2004. The original RES targeted 3 percent renewable energy by 2007, then rising at an additional 1.5 percent of renewable energy each year until 2020, until it would reach 16 percent by 2020. The Public Utility Commission later decided to delay the target for one year, effectively making the new RES 14.5 percent by 2019.
Rhode Island could soon join a growing number of states, including California, Oregon, Vermont, and Hawaii, raising their existing renewable energy targets laws in order to reduce carbon emissions and cut costs by diversifying their electricity mix. That list could also soon include New York as it considers expanding its renewable energy law to 50 percent by 2030, matching the goal passed by California last year.
A House amendment attached to the legislation gives the PUC more flexibility to delay a planned increase in the RES in the event of an inadequate supply of renewable energy credits (RECs).