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RI governor signs several bills supporting growth of renewables

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RI governor signs several bills supporting growth of renewables

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed several pieces of legislation supporting the growth of renewables in the state.

Among the bills signed into law Aug. 9 were House Bill 5483B/Senate Bill 637A, which speeds up the process for connecting renewable energy installations to the power grid and prohibits utilities from charging renewables owners for grid upgrades not directly related to their own interconnections. Raimondo also approved H 5274A/S 112A, which extends the state's renewable energy growth program by 10 years and will fund the development of 400 MW of solar and wind capacity between 2020 and 2029.

Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, who chairs the House Finance Subcommittee on Environment and Transportation and sponsored H 5274A, said the extension of the renewable energy growth program will add to the 38 large solar projects and 1,500 homeowners with solar panels that were already helped by the program. "It will also cause National Grid to lock into predictable electricity prices for decades, keeping electricity costs down," Ruggiero said. The state's major electric utility is National Grid USA, known legally in the state as Narragansett Electric Co.

Other signed bills include an amended H 5618Aaa, which expands virtual remote net metering for renewable energy projects to installations at churches, schools, colleges, hospitals and nonprofits; and an amended H 6095Aaa/S 570A, which allows farmers to install a renewable energy system on no more than 20% of their farm land acreage. In June, Raimondo also signed H.B. 5575, which streamlines municipal permitting of rooftop solar panels by combining currently separate building and electric permits into one statewide process.

"By streamlining permitting processes, simplifying land value taxation policy of renewables on farm lands and providing long-term stability to our renewable energy programs, we are taking important steps toward fostering a stronger clean energy economy," Raimondo said in a news release.

Raimondo's administration intends for the bills to help Rhode Island's goals, which were announced in March, to boost statewide clean energy generation by tenfold by 2020 and support 20,000 jobs within the industry. Already the state has 15,300 people employed in the clean energy industry, according to the 2017 Clean Energy Industry Report.