Rhode Island Approves Bills to Encourage Efficiency and Renewables

July 19, 2006

Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri approved an energy bill in late June that will encourage the use of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and distributed energy systems. Distributed energy systems are small power systems located on or near a customer's property, often owned by the customer, and connected to the power grid. The law requires the state's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to set new standards for procuring energy from diverse sources, including renewable energy systems, distributed energy systems, and demand response (technologies to reduce power demand when the power grid is near its capacity). To encourage the use of these energy resources, the PUC can set special rates and can also establish net metering standards. The PUC must also set standards for including energy efficiency and energy conservation measures when utilities attempt to procure energy at the lowest cost. In addition, the state will set new criteria to facilitate the siting of renewable energy facilities.

By 2008, each utility in the state has to submit plans for procuring these energy resources, including goals and target percentages for each resource, and will then have to update their plans every three years. To help establish long-term energy plans, the state will also create a new Office of Energy Resources. In addition, the state's gas distribution companies will support a new fund to support cost effective energy efficiency, energy conservation, combined heat and power systems, and weatherization services for low-income households. See the governor's press release or go directly to the full text of the bill (PDF 146 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

Governor Carcieri also signed S 2844 on June 23rd, requiring the PUC to establish new energy efficiency standards for residential boilers and furnaces, incandescent spot lights (also called "reflector lamps"), bottled water dispensers, commercial hot food holding cabinets, and walk-in refrigerators and freezers. The PUC must adopt regulations to establish the new efficiency standards by June 1st of next year. See the full text of the bill (PDF 42 KB).