Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today announced that he has directed $240,000 in funding for a renewable solar energy panel system at the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority's (RIPTA) John H. Chafee Transportation, Operations and Maintenance Center located at 269 Melrose Street in Providence. Most of the remaining cost of the $1.2 million solar energy project will be covered by matching federal funds.
The $240,000 is part of a 2007 court order resulting from a lawsuit brought by Rhode Island, other states, and the federal government against American Electric Power Service Corporation (AEP). Rhode Island and the other plaintiffs alleged that AEP constructed and modified numerous power plants in the Ohio River valley without the permits required under the Clean Air Act, causing increased smog in Rhode Island and other states. Under the court order, AEP paid a $15 million penalty and committed $60 million to perform or finance pro-environmental projects, of which $24 million was distributed to eight states to fund pollution reduction, renewable energy, green building, and other environmental projects. Rhode Island's portion of the settlement was $1.2 million, distributed through five annual installments of $240,000 through 2012.
The solar roof project is funded through a $1.2 million FTA Transit Investment in Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) grant, which requires a twenty percent state match. The AEP funds will cover the majority of the required $300,000 match needed to complete the solar panel project. The project, which is set to begin this summer, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
"This project is a great opportunity for RIPTA to invest in technology that will allow it to significantly reduce air emissions from traditional energy sources, generate its own power, and ultimately save taxpayer dollars by reducing operating costs," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "Over the past several years, the state has made a commitment to reduce energy costs through renewable energy projects, and we have leveraged the AEP funds to support the completion of several projects that have reduced the costs to operate state facilities."
"RIPTA is excited about the opportunities that this project presents" said RIPTA CEO Charles Odimgbe. "In these tough fiscal times RIPTA is able to reduce harmful air emissions while also reducing its operating costs."
In previous years the Attorney General has leveraged these court-ordered monies to reduce state energy costs and harmful air pollution through the installation of wind turbines at Fishermen's Memorial State Campground and East Matunuck State Beach, as well providing for upgraded air emissions devices on state-owned heavy equipment.