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State renews initiative to expand solar energy on brownfields

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources announced today that it is renewing an initiative to encourage solar projects located on brownfields. Brownfields — former industrial or commercial sites where future use is affected by environmental contamination — are often ideal locations for renewable energy projects. OER has committed $1 million in state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) proceeds in addition to funds already provided in 2019.

"As we grow the amount of clean energy in the state, it is important that we try and site renewable projects in a responsible and sustainable manner," said Nicholas S. Ucci, Acting State Energy Commissioner. "Last year, we earmarked $1 million in RGGI funds to support the development of solar projects on brownfields, and the program was a success. This new round of funding will continue supporting renewable expansion and greenhouse gas emission reductions, help repurpose brownfields, and, importantly, support clean energy jobs and investment across Rhode Island."

This funding initiative will further support clean energy adoption across local communities. Starting May 5, 2020, newly-developed solar PV projects that are sited on brownfields will be eligible for this new round of project incentives through the Rhode Island Commerce's Renewable Energy Fund. In 2019, seven solar projects, totaling more than 12 megawatts, benefits from this initiative. The projects are planned for brownfields in East Greenwich, Providence, Smithfield and South Kingstown.

In March 2017, Governor Gina M. Raimondo set an ambitious goal to accelerate Rhode Island's adoption of green energy and make the state's energy system ten-times cleaner by 2020. Today, the state is 80 percent of the way toward her goal and is on track to reach 1,000 MW of clean energy by the end of the year. Building on this success, in January 2020, Governor Raimondo signed a new executive order committing Rhode Island to meet 100 percent of its electricity demand with renewables by the end of the decade – a nation-leading initiative. Executive Order 20-01 directs the state's Office of Energy Resources to conduct an economic and energy market analysis and develop actionable policies and programs to reach this goal.

State funding for the solar brownfields incentive program is made possible thanks to Rhode Island's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Rhode Island Commerce's Renewable Energy Fund helps expand the role of renewable energy throughout Rhode Island by providing grants for clean energy projects that have the potential to produce electricity in a cleaner, more sustainable manner, while stimulating job growth in the green technology and energy sectors.

Applications may be found on the Renewable Energy Fund website: https://commerceri.com/financing/renewable-energy-fund/.

To read more about how Rhode Island is addressing climate change mitigation and resiliency, please visit: http://climatechange.ri.gov.

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