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Rhode Island details pathways to become first state with 100% renewable electricity

PROVIDENCE, R.I. In January 2020, Governor Gina M. Raimondo called for Rhode Island to become the first state in the nation to meet 100% of its electricity demand with renewables by 2030. Now, a new report issued by the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) details analysis and pathways to reach that bold, but achievable goal.

A clean, affordable, and reliable electric system powered by renewables is vital to reducing statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions contributing to climate change and harmful public health impacts. It will also enable broader GHG reductions across Rhode Island's heating and transportation sectors over time, while driving local investment and job growth.

"Rhode Island is a national clean energy leader with viable pathways to become the first 100% renewable state and dramatically reduce electric-sector GHG emissions," said State Energy Commissioner Nicholas S. Ucci. "As home to the nation's first offshore wind farm and nationally-recognized, cost-effective energy efficiency programs, the Ocean State has proven that decarbonization can spur environmental and public health benefits, while driving local economic investment and jobs. This report presents a thorough, honest assessment of technological and policy pathways to achieve this goal by 2030. OER looks forward to advancing this work with state leaders, utilities, and valued stakeholders in the coming months."

On January 17, 2020, Governor Raimondo signed an executive order committing Rhode Island to be powered by 100% renewable electricity by the end of the decade. Her executive order directed OER to conduct an economic and energy market analysis and develop actionable policies and programs to reach this goal. Stakeholder participation was a key component of this work to help inform realistic pathways that work for Rhode Islanders, while driving the state toward a lower-carbon electric supply.

The report includes 10 recommendations for policy, planning and enabling, and equity, including calls for a 100% Renewable Energy Standard and extension of the state's Least-Cost Procurement and Energy Efficiency statute.

"Today's report provides a clear roadmap for Rhode Island to achieve our common goal: a decarbonized electricity system," said Tom Giordano, Executive Director of the Partnership for Rhode Island, a non-profit, CEO-led group supporting K-12 education, workforce development, infrastructure and business attraction. "We applaud Governor Raimondo's leadership in making specific recommendations that will give Rhode Island businesses the flexibility to find least-cost clean energy solutions. We are excited to help support the achievement of this goal and we are confident that Rhode Island businesses will grow and prosper in the clean energy future."

OER's "The Road to 100% Renewable Electricity by 2030 in Rhode Island" report is the latest in a series of major initiatives to cut the state's carbon emissions, reduce its dependence of fossil fuels and make a smooth transition to clean energy resources:

*In the spring of 2020, OER released its Heating Sector Transformation Report which outlined pathways to adopt lower-carbon heating technologies and fuels, while ensuring affordability and reliability.

*In autumn 2020, OER launched a new $1.5 million pilot program which provides incentives for energy storage paired with renewable energy systems. The program is available for both residential and commercial users. Energy storage, such as batteries, is a vital component for completing the transition to clean energy because it provides power during times when renewable generation is not available.

*Governor Raimondo announced in October that Rhode Island will pursue a competitive request for proposals to procure up to 600 MW of new offshore energy.

The full report may be viewed online at: http://www.energy.ri.gov/100percent/.

The Governor's 100% by 2030 renewable electricity goal is one part of a broader state strategy to address the climate change crisis by reducing economy-wide carbon emissions. Visit http://climatechange.ri.gov for more information.

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