The Ocean State Sets 100% Renewable Energy Goal By 2030, But Is It Possible?

State Economy

The population of the Ocean State,  Rhode Island is approximately 1.06 million people[1]. Rhode Island is the 45th most populated state in in the United States.

In 2020, Rhode Island’s economy was ranked 44th in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP)[2]. The state’s economy is dependent on the fishing, agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism industries[3].

Environment Policies

In 2004. Rhode Island enacted a Renewable Energy Standard[4], which requires state utilities to generate 38.5% of all electricity sales from renewable energy by 2035.

In 2007, Rhode Island joined Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a market-based collaborative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2020, Governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive order committing Rhode Island to be powered by 100% renewable electricity by year-end 2030.

In July 2021, Rhode Island utilities used natural gas (92.6 %) and renewable energy (7.4 %) to generate electricity[5]. Solar, wind, and biomass are the primary types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Rhode Island.

In July 2021, the average cost for residential electricity in Rhode Island was 20.50 ¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 13.90 ¢ per kWh.

Recent renewable energy developments in Rhode Island include:

  • 400 MW Offshore Wind Project – Danish power company Ørsted and Connecticut electric utility, Eversource are continuing work on the Revolution Wind project at a site approximately 15 miles off the coast of Rhode Island. The project is scheduled to be commissioned in 2023.
  • 4 MW Solar Project – In October 2021, New Jersey company, Nautilus Solar Energy commissioned a solar project on a contaminated landfill located approximately 9 miles southwest of the state capital, Providence.
  • 3 MW Energy Storage Project – In May 2021, Massachusetts solar company, Agilitas Energy commenced work on a lithium-ion battery storage project at a site approximately 15 miles northwest of Providence. The project is scheduled to be commissioned in 2022.

Conclusion

The first offshore wind farm in the United States was commissioned in the state waters of Rhode Island in 2016. However, Rhode Island has commissioned few major renewable energy projects, since the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm.

In July 2021, Rhode Island used natural gas, a fossil fuel to generate 92.6% of the state’s electricity, which is one of the highest percentages of any state in the country. Rhode Island has also legislated that all electric utilities will use 100% renewable energy by 2030!

Rhode Island will be challenged to meet the Renewable Energy Standard mandate that utilities generate 38.5% of all electricity sales from renewable energy by 2035, let alone 100% by 2030.

The overwhelming majority of states are concerned about the growing threat of climate change and are implementing renewable energy legislation. However, the states that are significantly reducing greenhouse gas emission have first developed a plan, before they implement legislation.

State’s must investigate, before they legislate or else no state or nation will be able to effectively address climate change.

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”


www.jackkerfoot.com

 

[1] Rhode Island Population 2021, World Population Review

[2] U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis

[3] Biggest Industries in Rhode Island – World Atlas

[4] National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, August 13, 2021

[5] U.S. Energy Information Agency – Rhode Island State Profile and Energy Estimates

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