Rep. Deborah Ruggiero D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown)

Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown) is sponsoring legislation to require that 100 percent of Rhode Island’s electricity sold at retail comes from renewable sources by 2030.

“As the Ocean State,  Rhode Island must make a bold commitment to clean energy to slow the effects of global warming and the rising sea levels that are threatening our property, infrastructure, and safety. Back in 2004, the state made a policy decision that power entities must buy a percentage of their retail electricity from renewable sources like solar, wind, and wave. Compliance is met by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) through a regional program,” said Representative Ruggiero in a statement that was provided in a press release. “This is important because if a developer is going to build a renewable energy project he or she wants to know there is a market for National Grid to buy the RECs.  The Renewable Energy Standard creates jobs for our residents and continues to help drive down the cost of renewables, which has fallen drastically in the last decade.”     

The legislation (2021-H 5762) changes the state’s Renewable Energy Standard, the law that states how much of the state’s electricity must come from renewable sources. The bill eliminates the current schedule of annual 1.5 percentage point increases in electricity required to be generated from renewable sources through 2035, and replaces it with a more aggressive target of 2030 for all the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources. Under the bill, the Public Utilities Commission would set the annual targets to ensure the 100 percent goal is reached on time.

Representative Ruggiero was also the sponsor of the bill that last updated the Renewable Energy Standard in 2016. Since that time, consensus has grown about the urgency of the climate crisis, and so has the availability of renewable generation technology, she said.

“With planning and commitments like a stronger Renewable Energy Standard, we can build a thriving green economy that defends against climate change while putting Rhode Islanders to work,” Representative Ruggiero said. “We are making great progress toward this goal of 100 percent with renewable energy projects by municipalities, schools, businesses and homeowners, and now offshore wind projects will help our state and other states get to these percentages. Rhode Island – home to the nation’s first commercial wind farm and rapidly expanding solar capabilities – is leading the charge into the green energy frontier.”

The legislation was introduced on Feb. 24 and had a hearing before the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee on March 11. It is co-sponsored by Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston), Rep. Brandon Potter (D-Dist. 16, Cranston), Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport), Rep. Terri Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown), Rep. Rebecca Kislak (D-Dist. 4, Providence) and Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick).