Early last month, Rhode Island’s Gov. Gina Raimondo signed a package of legislation that will expand renewable energy investments by:
- Increasing the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) from 14.5% by 2019 to 38.5% by 2035
- Opening the market to community distributed generation systems and shared solar facilities
- Creating a 30MW Virtual Net Metering (VNM) Program for affordable and multi-family housing for 2017 and 2018
- Streamlining permitting
- Legalizing third-party financing to allow both leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs)
- Extending the Rhode Island Renewable Energy Fund (REF) and Renewable Energy (RE) Growth Program until December 2022
- Exempting residential renewable energy resources from property taxes and asking the Office of Energy Resources and the Division of Taxation to establish standardized property tax rules that will be incorporated statewide. This standardization is key, especially as variance in property tax interpretation at the local level is a barrier to solar financing in many states across the U.S.
- Changing eligible renewable energy system sizes for virtual net metering from 5MW to 10MW
A renewable energy standard – called an RPS standard in some states – on its own is often not enough to guarantee solar investments in a given state. However, coupled with programs that minimize soft costs such as permitting, standardize property tax rules, and jumpstart the local industry through a robust incentive program such as RE Growth, Rhode Island is well under way to becoming a leader in progressive renewable energy policies.
Overall, renewables can look forward to a day at the beach thanks to the legislature and Governor Raimondo’s commitment to driving renewable energy investments in the Ocean State.
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