PROVIDENCE, RI – The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources and Division of Public Utilities and Carriers released their Heating Sector Transformation report Wednesday, outlining pathways to achieve a clean, affordable, and reliable heating future for the Ocean State. The report was conducted pursuant to Governor Gina M. Raimondo's Executive Order 19-06, calling for the agencies to lead a transformation of the heating sector by 2050 that reduces greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring Rhode Islanders have access to safe, reliable, and affordable heating solutions.
"The response of our people, communities, and leadership to the COVID crisis has been incredible; while we still face many trials, it serves as an important reminder that Rhode Islanders can rise up to meet any challenge – even one as daunting as climate change," said Nicholas S. Ucci, Acting State Energy Commissioner. "It is with that optimistic spirit that we submit our Heating Sector Transformation report. This report provides an analytical foundation and policy framework to seize emerging opportunities and navigate the complex challenges associated with providing building and industrial heating in a low-carbon future."
The Heating Sector Transformation Report, now available online at www.energy.ri.gov/HST, evaluates various no-to-low carbon heating technologies and usage scenarios. It also provides policy principles that encourage the state to seize natural investment opportunities, implement "no-regrets" investments, continue deployment of nation-leading energy efficiency programs, and ensure that electric- and gas-distribution system upgrades are "future-proofed" to enable decarbonized heating solutions at scale.
"About 40 percent of Rhode Island's total energy consumption is from heating, making up the second largest energy sector in Rhode Island, after transportation," said Linda George, Acting Administrator of the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers. "We have significant practical and financial challenges ahead of us, but this report charts several potential pathways for us to consider as we strive to produce affordable, reliable, and more sustainable alternatives."
The report acknowledges that a lower-carbon heating future will be intricately linked to an electric grid powered by renewable energy resources. Since 2016, Rhode Island has increased its clean energy portfolio eight-fold and remains a national leader in cost-effective energy efficiency programs. The state is also home to the nation's first and only operational offshore wind farm (Block Island) and it recently approved a contract for a 400 MW offshore wind project (Revolution Wind) projected to meet one-quarter of the state's electricity demand. Building on these successes, Governor Raimondo has signed an executive order committing Rhode Island to meet 100 percent of its electricity demand with renewables by the end of the decade.
Rhode Island's Heating Sector Transformation report was informed by the engagement of numerous private- and public-sector stakeholders. Their robust engagement indicates wide-scale interest in developing pathways toward a lower-carbon heating future that creates new jobs and investment opportunities; unlocks innovative solutions; maintains system reliability; and ensures that all Rhode Islanders can access affordable heating.
"I want to thank all of the stakeholders that engaged in our public workshops and shared valuable insights over the past several months. Working together, I am confident that Rhode Island can achieve an affordable, secure, and more sustainable heating future," said Commissioner Ucci.
To read more about how Rhode Island is addressing climate change mitigation and resiliency, please visit: http://climatechange.ri.gov.