One of the first states to restructure its electric utility industry has been slow to attract green power suppliers, but Rhode Island state agencies and the local electric company are now offering rebates they hope will boost the state's green power industry. The state's 1996 deregulation law opened markets to large industrial users of Narragansett Electric power in 1997 and for all other users in 1998, but customers have not had a choice of green power products because marketers have yet to visit the state. The Rhode Island Renewable Energy Collaborative, made up of Narragansett Electric, the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers and the Energy Council of Rhode Island, is now attempting to attract green power suppliers, such as Green Mountain Energy, by offering an incentive for each customer signed. Rules to allow customer choice have moved slowly, says Katherine Ringe-Welch of Narragansett Electric, which serves 460,000 or 99% of the state's customers. The renewable collaborative, however, has started to offer two programs it hopes will speed that pace. If it accomplishes its goal, 20,000 homes and businesses, a 4% penetration rate, will sign on for a green power product. A $1.25 million program for homes and small businesses gives suppliers a $125 rebate each to sign the first 5000 residential customers and $75 for others, and $250 for each small business customer for the first 1000 and $125 for others as long as the money lasts. Other incentives cover industrial customers. An additional $350,000 is earmarked for a complementary education and marketing program to encourage demand. It will also establish buying groups that could buy bulk green power.
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