STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Deborah Ruggiero to substantially increase renewable energy production and supply by requiring that 100 percent of Rhode Island’s electricity by offset by renewable production by 2033.
The bill now goes to the Senate, which has approved identical legislation sponsored by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence). The legislation institutes a firm commitment and timeline toward shifting Rhode Island toward renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions.
“This bill supports renewable energy growth, and is consistent with the Act on Climate’s goal of reducing carbon emissions by to net-zero by 2050,” said Representative Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown). “In addition to reducing emissions and our reliance on fossil fuels that must be brought to Rhode Island from other places, creating renewable energy supports the green industry, creating thousands of good paying jobs right here in Rhode Island. We’ve seen a 74% increase in green jobs since 2014, and that trend is going to continue as we deepen our commitment to renewables.”
The legislation (2022-H 7277A) institutes annual increases the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES), the law that requires utility companies to purchase renewable energy certificates representing a certain percentage of the power they sell annually. Those certificates are traded in a regional marketplace.
In 2022, the RES is set at 19% of the retail electricity suppliers sell in Rhode Island, with the percentage set to increase by 1.5 percent annually through 2035.
Representative Ruggiero’s bill increases the targets more aggressively. Under it, the target would increase by an additional 4% in 2023; 5% in 2024; 6% in 2025; 7% in 2026 and 2027; 7.5% in 2028; 8% in 2029, 8.5% in 2030, 9% in 2031 and 9.5% in 2032 to achieve the goal of 100% of Rhode Island’s electricity demand being offset by renewable energy by 2033 and thereafter.
While the RES does not guarantee that the actual energy used in Rhode Island came from a renewable source, nor does it prohibit any utilities from supplying energy generated by fossil fuel, it does result in the generation of a corresponding amount of renewable energy in the region and encourages construction of renewable projects. In that way, Representative Ruggiero said, it creates jobs and continues to help drive down the cost of renewables, which has fallen drastically in the last decade.
The progress instituted by the bill will be a critical step toward achieving the carbon emissions reductions to which the state committed last year with the passage of the Act on Climate.
“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,” said Representative Ruggiero, who was the sponsor of the legislation that last raised the RES in 2016. “We are making great progress toward this goal of 100 percent with many offshore wind projects in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. This doesn’t mean we won’t have any dependence on gas and oil, but this will make us much less dependent on fossil fuel and more reliant on renewables, to move us toward a resilient future.”