The “Ocean State” Sets 100% Renewable Energy Goal By 2030…. But Is The Goal 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 2021, 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, financial services, and tourism industries[3].

Environment Policies

In 2004. Rhode Island enacted a Renewable Energy Standard[4], requiring 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 March 2022, utilities used natural gas (85.7 %) and renewable energy (14.3 %) to generate electricity in Rhode Island[5]. Solar, wind, and biomass are the primary types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Rhode Island.

In March 2022, the average cost for residential electricity in Rhode Island was 23.46 ¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 14.47 ¢ 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 June 2022, Massachusetts solar company, Agilitas Energy commissioned a lithium-ion battery storage project at a site approximately 15 miles northwest of Providence.

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 utility scale renewable energy projects, since the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm.

In March 2022, Rhode Island used natural gas, a fossil fuel to generate 85.7 % of the state’s electricity. However, Rhode Island has legislated that all utilities only use renewable energy to generate electricity by 2030!

It is highly unlikely that Rhode Island’s electric utilities can achieve the 100% renewable energy mandate in the next 90 months. States that are successfully reducing greenhouse gas emissions first develop a comprehensive plan, before the legislate.

State’s must legislate before they legislate, if they want to effectively address climate change.

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”


www.jackkerfoot.com

 

Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on numerous energy related topics.

 

[1] Rhode Island Population 2022, 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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2 thoughts on “The “Ocean State” Sets 100% Renewable Energy Goal By 2030…. But Is The Goal Possible?”

  1. “In March 2022, Rhode Island used natural gas, a fossil fuel to generate 85.7 % of the state’s electricity. However, Rhode Island has legislated that all utilities only use renewable energy to generate electricity by 2030!”

    It is questioned whether this is possible? A better question might be, Is it probable?

    The aim to stop using natural gas is good. The closer that they get to that goal the better.

    1. Richard, Thank you for your comment. The point is Rhode Island uses natural gas to generate over 85% of the state’s electricity. Rhode Island’s utilities have been slow to develop new renewable energy projects and it appears unlikely the state will achieve the 2005 RPS of 35% electricity from renewables by 2035.

      States like Rhode Island and Massachusetts have been quick to legislate renewable energy standards but slow to implement legislation to ensure the renewable energy standards are achieved.

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