Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the union, but it’s getting a lot of national attention recently for its renewable energy economy. In fact, Rhode Island is ranked number three in the nation for “solar friendliness.” So what is driving all of this activity?
Well, it’s a combination of things. Firstly, Governor Gina Raimondo announced earlier this year that Rhode Island is committed to increasing its clean energy 10 times by 2020. The current amount of solar energy produced in RI is 100 Megawatts (MW). So, that would mean reaching 1000 MW in the next few years.
That’s an ambitious goal, to say the least. How are we going to get there?
Pushing that goal forward is Rhode Island’s solar incentives: the Renewable Energy Fund (REF) and the Renewable Energy Growth program (REG). Both programs focus on solar projects less than or equal to 25 kW (residential or small commercial).
The Renewable Energy Growth Program: How it works
In 2004, Rhode Island enacted one of the first renewable portfolio standards in the U.S. It requires utilities in RI to generate 16% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Thus came the Renewable Energy Growth Program, a state-approved incentive run by National Grid. It makes you, the homeowner, a solar electricity supplier for the Grid.
National Grid pays you for the electricity you produce at a set rate. That amount is applied to your electricity bill every month. If you produce more energy than you use, National Grid sends you a check for the remaining balance.
The rates National Grid pays you for electricity are determined by two factors:
- The size of your panel system (how many kilowatts)
- The option you choose (15 or 20 years)
The rates per option as of April 2017:
- 15-year option is 34.74 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh)
- 20-year option is 30.85 cents per kWh
- The rate you secure when you enroll extends the entire period
- Those incentive enrollment rates drop as time goes by, so act sooner than later
Important update as of 12/07/2017:
The REG program has been enormously successful in the past few years. So successful, in fact, that the current round of applications has suddenly stopped. National announced in October that they have paused the program until April, 2018.
It’s possible that money set aside for commercial projects may be used to fund the residential side of the program. We will continue to update you. If you have questions or want to learn more, please email us at [email protected] or call our office.
The Renewable Energy Fund: How it works
The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation (Commerce RI) offers homeowners grant money (as a rebate) for purchasing solar PV systems. The REF is state-wide effort to increase local production of renewable energy, create jobs, and boost the sustainable energy economy in RI.
As a homeowner, you’re eligible to apply for the “small-scale program.” The grant money assists you to pay for the solar installation, sometimes 20-30% of the total cost. Add that to the 30% federal solar tax credit, and you gain considerable savings for installing solar.
For a 10kw system (the maximum size to be eligible for the REF), you can receive up to an $8,000 rebate.
When National Grid announced that the REG program will pause until next year, the REF decided to add another “block” for applications over the winter. Instead of resuming in February, the program is accepting new applications as of December 1, 2017.
However, the current block’s funding is only $400,000 and will get used up quickly. If you’re thinking about going solar, now is the time to act. You can schedule an appointment with us by clicking here.