The General Assembly today passed legislation introduced by Sen. William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket) and Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown) that would expand the successful Renewable Energy Growth Program with an additional 400 MW of renewable energy over 10 years. The measure now moves to the governor’s office.

“The Renewable Energy Growth Program is supporting new clean energy investments and creating local jobs, including more than 180 residential solar projects located throughout Rhode Island,” said Senator Conley, who was honored as a Clean Energy Champion last month by the Northeast Clean Energy Council.

The legislation (2017-S 0112A/2017-H 5274A) would expand the program so that from 2020 through 2029 there will be an annual target of 40 nameplate megawatts above the prior program year’s annual target. The Renewable Energy Growth Program allows large commercial projects as well as small renewable energy producers — such as rooftop solar — to sell their energy to National Grid at set price over a set time (15 to 20 years).

“The Renewable Energy Growth Program has seen tremendous success since 2014 with 38 large solar installations across the state, allowing businesses, municipalities and over 1,500 homeowners to save on electricity costs. The Green Energy sector, which includes the REG program and energy efficiency, has created over 14,000 jobs in Rhode Island. The REG program is so successful that Oregon, California, Alabama and Massachusetts are looking at this legislation for their states,” said Representative Ruggiero in a press release. “Right now, Rhode Island gets 95 percent of its energy from natural gas. The REG program helps the state diversify its renewable energy resources to meet our long-term energy needs, while also helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Senate bill is cosponsored by Senators V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham), Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence) and Senate Minority Whip Nicholas D. Kettle (R-Dist. 21, Coventry, Foster, Scituate, West Greenwich).

The House bill is cosponsored by Representatives Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston), Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence), Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett) and Rep. Jeremiah T. O’Grady (D-Dist. 46, Lincoln, Pawtucket).

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).