Gov. Gina M. Raimondo, D-R.I., recently announced a goal to increase the amount of clean energy in Rhode Island tenfold by the end of 2020.
According to a press release from the governor’s office, the state had approximately 100 MW of clean energy in 2016, the baseline year for this goal; therefore, the governor is now aiming to reach a total of 1,000 MW by 2020. The release says the goal will include energy from a broad portfolio of clean energy resources, including solar and onshore and offshore wind, and homeowners, municipalities, institutions, and private commercial and industrial enterprises can contribute to the goal with smart investments in clean energy. (Notably, Rhode Island became home to the U.S.’ first operating offshore wind farm last year.)
“Every step we take toward a clean energy future is a step toward a stronger, more sustainable environment and economy. Our commitment to expand our clean energy portfolio will help lower energy costs, create jobs and protect the beauty of our state for future generations,” says Raimondo in the release. “As the technology advances, an affordable, clean energy future is no longer simply a dream. Because of the investments we’ve made and with partnerships across the state, we will increase the amount of clean energy in Rhode Island by 1,000 percent, and we’ll double our green economy workforce.”
According to the release, the governor announced her goal at Quonset Development Corp., which is currently working on a new 400,000 square-foot rooftop solar array and a separate land-based array on Davisville Road that will generate enough power to meet the full energy needs for the agency that runs the Quonset Business Park. Once complete, the green energy project is expected to produce approximately 2 million kWh of energy.
“At QDC, we are pursuing solar power to meet our growing energy needs,” says Steven King, managing director of the QDC, in the release. “Renewable energy makes excellent business sense – it saves us money, it is reliable and helps us reduce our carbon footprint. We are honored to be one of the projects contributing to the governor’s clean energy goal.”
Despite the ambitious target, it is unclear how the governor plans to reach the clean energy goal, as well as exactly which energy resources would count. The Providence Business News points out there is no current legislation to ratify the goal, and Rhode Island Congressman Aaron Regunberg reportedly said, “We need to actually do some things to reach that goal and get on pace,” considering the state is not currently on track to “take renewable generation to that scale.”
Nonetheless, the press release emphasizes that Raimondo’s new goal is part of the governor’s ongoing support for clean energy. During her State of the State address, for example, Raimondo announced a similar strategic goal to double the number of Rhode Islanders working in green energy jobs by 2020. In 2015, the nearly 10,000 Rhode Islanders worked in the green economy, according to the release.
In addition, the governor signed a law that increased Rhode Island’s renewable portfolio standard last year, and Raimondo also heads the Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition, an advocacy group that recently sent a letter to the Trump administration to emphasize the “boons of renewable energy.”