Energy LawRenewable Energy Law

December 10, 20190

By now, you may have heard of an area of power production known as renewable energy law. This area of law covers both state and federal legislation meant to require a minimum amount of power generation from sources other than fossil fuels. This article will cover a few of these statutes enacted in Rhode Island recently.

Renewable Energy Standard

In 2004, the Rhode Island legislature enacted the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) statute. This renewable energy law is aimed at electric distribution companies and non-regulated power producers. The RES statute initially required 16% of renewable energy by 2019. This standard was then amended in 2016 to set a statewide target of 38.5% by 2035. In order to meet statutory thresholds, the companies and producers must offer an increasing amount of their retail electric sales from renewable energy resources. For example, these resources can include fuel cells, small hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass.

The structure of the RES is interesting. The electricity providers purchase something called a renewable energy certificates. This renewable energy law does not require physical procurement of the power produced by a renewable energy facility. A renewable energy certificate consists of 1 MWh of renewable energy generated and delivered to the electric grid.

Net Metering

The state’s net metering renewable energy law deals with the credit given for renewable energy power produced behind a customer’s meter. This credit is given to the customer by the electric distribution company. The concept of net metering is another example of the state’s efforts to incentivize third party renewable energy consumption; it was enacted in 2011.

An eligible renewable energy system under this statute must be located on a customer’s property, with some specific exceptions. Once the system is eligible, the customer is then given credit at an electric distribution company’s lower rate. This lower rate can provide up to 125% of the customer’s own consumption during a billing period.

Renewable Energy Growth Program

The Renewable Energy Growth Program (REG Program) replaced the 40 MW Distributed Generation Standard Contracts Program that ended in 2014. The REG Program utilizes a new process where performance-based incentives are offered. These incentives are included in the tariffs approved by the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission. In my practice, the biggest shift in the industry related to the REG Program was the inclusion of small-scale solar projects.

Resilient Rhode Island Act

In 2014, Rhode Island passed the Resilient Rhode Island Act. This renewable energy law put into place the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4), which is required to meet and author plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Resilient Rhode Island Act enacted specific goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, established advisory boards to assist the EC4, and made all state agencies consider climate change issues within their respective programs.

The attorneys at Desautel Browning Law work with renewable energy law every day. We represent all types of clients regularly with renewable energy projects and issues. Call us today to find out how we can help you: 401.477.0023.

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