PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has installed new rooftop solar arrays at two state beaches and the Port of Galilee. Funded by grant money secured by the Rhode Island Attorney General's Office in a 2018 settlement with Volkswagen for violating Rhode Island clean air laws, the arrays will allow DEM to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase use of clean energy, and solidify DEM's commitment to Rhode Island's Lead by Example policy through which state and municipal agencies pledge to change their consumption practices to lower-cost, cleaner, low-carbon solutions. Following their installment in March, final inspections and testing will take place before being connected to the grid. The projects will create more than 51 kilowatts of electricity capacity through sunshine.
"State agencies have an obligation to lead by example and incorporate and expand clean energy solutions in projects and facilities whenever possible," said DEM Acting Director Terry Gray. "This is only a small step, but the first of many that we are planning to take in future months and years to reduce our carbon footprint and help Rhode Island meet the mandates of the Act on Climate."
In 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency found that Volkswagen had installed illegal software on their diesel engine cars, affecting about 3,000 cars in Rhode Island. The software made it appear that the cars were emitting less nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions than they were. Settlement funds were distributed among every state based on the number of vehicles on their roads. As part of the settlement, states were eligible to receive funds to pay part of the cost of projects to reduce diesel emissions from vehicles and install electric vehicle infrastructure.
For more information on DEM programs and services, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), Facebook, or Instagram (@RhodeIslandDEM).