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Rhode Island's 16% renewables mandate
1 August 2004
Rhode Island became the most recent US state to adopt an aggressive renewable energy standard (RES) when Governor Donald Carcieri, a Republican, signed legislation passed unanimously by the state's General Assembly in early July. The RES calls for state utilities to procure 16% of energy sales from renewable resources by 2020, but only 2% of the RES target can come from existing renewables. The bill had the support of both Republicans and Democrats, largely due to two price protection mechanisms. If the cost of renewable energy rises above $0.05/kWh, utilities will be allowed to pay an alternative compliance payment to the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, which in turn is allowed to enter into long term contracts for renewable energy certificates. In addition, the state's Public Utility Commission (PUC) can change the rate at which renewables must be phased in if price becomes an issue. The PUC is charged by the legislation with setting the rules for the RES, says Erich Stephens of People's Power & Light, a non-profit energy consumers' alliance that lobbied the General Assembly to pass the bill. Backers of the legislation expect little in the way of renewables development to occur in Rhode Island, one of the nation's smallest and most densely populated states. But the state is connected with the PJM grid (covering the Pennsylvania-Jersey-Maryland region) where significant wind power development is underway, allowing Rhode Island to buy in green power from out of state.
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