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State approves Block Island energy efficiency plan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) announced today the approval of the Block Island Utility District's (BIUD) new comprehensive energy efficiency plan. BIUD's new energy efficiency programs and incentives will help local residents and businesses reduce energy consumption and costs, shrink carbon footprints, and support clean energy jobs. The energy efficiency plan will provide enhanced access to important, cost-effective energy efficiency measures, such as building weatherization, programmable thermostats, and the replacement of aging and inefficient HVAC systems. OER has committed technical assistance and $180,000 in state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) funds to support these investments over the next three years.

"Rhode Island is a national clean energy leader and we are thrilled to support the Block Island Utility District in making comprehensive, cost-effective energy efficiency measures more accessible to the New Shoreham community," said Nicholas S. Ucci, Acting State Energy Commissioner. "Energy efficiency is foundational to our clean energy future it is the least-cost means of reducing utility costs and greenhouse gas emissions, while supporting local investment and job growth. I want to thank the New Shoreham Town Council and the Block Island Utility District's leadership team for collaborating with the State in fostering a cleaner, more affordable and reliable energy future for this important community."

Yesterday marked the Public Utilities Commission's approval of the Block Island Utility District's energy efficiency plan. It is the latest example of collaboration between the state Office of Energy Resources, the Town of New Shoreham, and its utility district. In 2014, OER provided funding to help the community replace its streetlights with high-efficiency LEDs. In 2015, a pilot energy efficiency program Block Island Saves was implemented, which educated residents and business owners about the benefits of energy efficiency and connected them to cost-effective energy-saving measures and incentives. The success of that pilot has led BIUD to embark on a more comprehensive energy efficiency program that will extend to all Block Islanders and reduce the island's overall energy use, particularly during peak seasons.

"Block Island is a beautiful place with its own unique character and logistical challenges, making it unlike any other municipality in Rhode Island," said Jeffery Wright, President of the Block Island Utility District. "Our partnership with OER over the years has been critical to ensuring that residents and business owners have new, innovative ways to reduce energy costs and participate in our shared clean energy future. We are delighted by the PUC's approval of our first comprehensive energy efficiency plan so that we can extend these cost-saving benefits to our entire community, giving our customers more control over their energy bills, while lowering summer demand on our local grid."

"I'm very proud of the people of Block Island," said Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) "The town of New Shoreham continues to lead the way in energy efficiency and has become a benchmark the rest of the state should strive for. It has become a blueprint for low energy consumption and reduced carbon footprint."

Highlights of the Block Island energy efficiency plan include:

Home/business energy audits and direct install measures a cornerstone of high-quality efficiency programming that provides instant energy savings through direct install measures (such as LED bulbs and smart power strips), rebates on appliances, and offers customers an energy assessment outlining additional measures they can use as an energy improvement roadmap.

Weatherization incentives weatherization includes sealing and insulation the building to reduce loss of heated or cooled air which lowers energy usage, reduces costs and improves occupant comfort year-round.

Rebates for air-source heat pumps Electric heat pumps are energy-efficient replacements for aging HVAC systems that provide both heating and cooling, replacing the need for conventional heating fuels such as propane. This incentive is consistent with the recommendations stemming from Governor Raimondo's Heating Sector Transformation initiative.

The Block Island Utility District anticipates that program offerings will be made available in June 2020.

For more information on OER's programs and initiatives, please visit www.energy.ri.gov.

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

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