States across America are stepping up to fight the effects of climate change. At Arcadia, we enable consumers in each of these states to switch to clean energy and understand just how easy it is! From participating in community solar projects and utilizing wind energy to power your homes or offices, to setting up smart home automation technology and choosing energy-efficient appliances, there are countless ways to save money, energy, and time.
In many ways, the fight against climate change has been recently focused through individual states, their policies, geography, and circumstance. How prevalent the clean energy industry is in each state, what is looks like, and where it’s going varies across borders.
Here, we’re taking a look at where Rhode Island stands. Once a national leader in renewable energy, the state has gone through somewhat of a stagnation in recent years. However, with new community solar projects, off-shore wind generation, and updated renewable portfolio standards, the Ocean State appears poised for renewable renaissance.
Rhode Island’s clean energy industry today
In 2004 the state set one of the first renewable energy portfolio standards — 38.5% by 2035 — requiring retail electricity providers sourced that percentage of it’s energy from clean sources. In 2017 Rhode Island got just over seven percent of it’s energy from renewable sources — mostly biomass.
As a means of quality control, the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is responsible for monitoring progress to determine if this goal is feasible given the renewable energy supply necessary to meet these requirements. In 2019, the PUC will start to meet every 5 years to assess the use and supply of renewable sources like direct solar radiation, biomass facilities, and fuel cells using renewable resources.
Wind energy in Rhode Island
Rhode Island has some of the most substantial wind resources of any state. Since increased wind production is possible with higher wind speeds in areas of high elevations and low surface roughness, Rhode Island’s offshore ocean territory is ideal to generate high-powered wind energy.
Rhode Island amplified its early wind energy contributions by becoming home to the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. — producing 30 megawatt (MW) per year with 5 turbines supplied by General Electric Renewable Energy.
However, Rhode Island’s wind power history goes even further back. The first commercial-scale wind turbine was introduced in Rhode Island in 2006. According to a comprehensive database of detailed statistics on wind energy, The Wind Power, this community wind facility included one turbine at 50 meters with a total nominal power of 660 kilowatts (kW).
Solar energy in Rhode Island
Rhode Island has also made strides in promoting the use of solar energy for residential, commercial, and industrial capacities. Though solar energy resources in the state are often mischaracterized as are modest at best, the potential for solar generation exceeds current electric power needs in Rhode Island.
As part of a push to bring solar to The Ocean State, Arcadia is bringing one of the first community solar projects online this year. Partnering with Nautilus Solar, Rhode Island renters and homeowners alike can now enroll in the local Goat Island community solar project near Newport. Residents of the state can earn solar savings on their power bills, while sending more clean energy to the grid. Subscribing to the Goat Island project costs absolutely nothing, and is exclusive to Arcadia users.
What’s next for clean energy in Rhode Island?
In March 2017, Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced a new goal to build a total of 1,000 MW of clean energy generation by 2020. This would increase Rhode Island’s clean energy ten-fold from 2016 when the state had an estimated 100 MW of clean energy. In establishing this new goal, the Raimondo Administration is acting upon its commitment to “produce and consumer cleaner, more sustainable energy and leave our kids a healthier planet,” as stated by the Governor upon the opening of the Block Island Wind Farm in 2016.
The OER also reports that at the close of 2018, Rhode Island had about 363 MW of clean energy generating capacity which was broken out to 144 MW of onshore wind, 30 MW of offshore wind, 143 MW of solar, 35 MW of landfill gas or anaerobic digestion, and, finally, 11 MW of small hydroelectric power.
Rhode Island has fully embraced wind and solar energy for it’s future. The state’s policy, private sector, and public are quickly moving to transform the grid and electric supply. With Arcadia community solar and a fast-growing offshore wind industry, the state seems poised to remake it’s energy mix in a very renewable mold.