Legislation passed in Rhode Island will commit the state to procure 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2033. If Gov. Daniel McKee, as expected, signs the bill into law, the Ocean State could have the nation’s fastest timeline for a 100% renewables procurement.
The New England state’s legislature on June 17 approved a bill (H277/S2274) that would institute annual increases in the state’s 2007-instituted Renewable Energy Standard (RES). The law requires utilities to purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs) representing a certain percentage of the power they sell annually.
RECs are traded in a regional marketplace. “While the RES does not guarantee that the actual energy used in Rhode Island came from a renewable source, nor does it prohibit any utilities from supplying energy generated by fossil fuel, it does result in the generation of a corresponding amount of renewable energy in the region and encourages construction of renewable projects,” a document affiliated with the bill notes. In 2022, the RES is set at 19% of the retail electricity suppliers sell in Rhode Island, with the percentage set to increase by 1.5% annually through 2035.
If signed by the governor, Rhode Island will become one of 21 states that are so far pursuing 100% renewable or clean energy goals.
Source: 100% States by PaulosAnalysis/Tableau Public: https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/paulosanalysis/viz/100States/100States
Rhode Island, which had a population of about 1 million in 2020, relied on natural gas for 89% of its net generation in 2020—the largest share of any state, according to the Energy Information Administration. The state’s power grid is managed by ISO-New England (ISO-NE), a regional independent system operator. National Grid, a London-based energy company, managed 99% of distribution for the state since 2000 when it bought out Narragansett Electric Co., just after the state moved to deregulate its electricity market.
National Grid on May 25, however, completed the sale of Narragansett Electric Co. to PPL Rhode Island Holdings, ending its operations in the state. PPL Corp. said the $3.8 billion acquisition will now be known as “Rhode Island Energy,” reflecting “both the company’s commitment to Rhode Island and its pursuit of a cleaner energy future in line with the state’s renewable energy and net-zero goals.”
PPL, however, agreed to a settlement with Rhode Island’s attorney general to proceed with the acquisition. PPL agreed, among other measures, to provide $50 million in bill credits to Rhode Island Energy customers, to write off and not seek recovery of more than $20 million in current regulatory assets on Narragansett Electric’s books, and not to seek base rate increases for at least three years after the transaction closes. In addition, PPL also “agreed to additional actions that reinforce the company’s strong commitment to grid modernization and decarbonization,” including preparing and submitting an “Act on Climate Report” within one year of the acquisition to the state’s public commission and attorney general’s office.
“With the sale of our U.K. business and our acquisition of Rhode Island Energy now complete, PPL is transformed and in an excellent position to create significant, sustainable value for our shareowners and our customers,” said PPL President and Chief Executive Officer Vincent Sorgi earlier this month.
—Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor (@sonalcpatel, @POWERmagazine).