Rhode Island was one of the first states in the country to adopt a renewable energy portfolio standard. It requires utilities to get 16 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. To help its residents adopt solar and other renewables, the state offers various financial incentives, like tax breaks and a feed-in-tariff.
Rhode Island’s renewable resources are not limited to solar power. The state has rich offshore wind potential. Its native Deepwater Wind has a 30-megawatt demonstration project at Block Island.
Rhode Island has the nation’s lowest overall electric use on a per capita basis, according to the DOE’s Energy Information administration. That’s thanks in part to mild summers, with little need for air conditioning and because most homes don’t use electricity to heat their homes in the winter.The state's average electric rate is 14.83 cents per kilowatt hour, which is well above the national average of 11.43 cents.
The low energy use and high electricity costs should make it easier for people to install solar and other renewables. The state also offers a feed-n-tariff for larger solar installations.
Renewable Energy Sales Tax Exemption
The State provides sales tax exemptions for eligible renewable energy materials. For further information about what is eligible under the sales tax exemption law, please click here.
Federal Investment Tax Credit
The Federal Government provides a thirty percent Investment Tax Credit for eligible renewable energy systems for homeowners and businesses. The federal Investment Tax Credit program is currently in place until December 31, 2016. For further information, click here.
Renewable Energy Fund
The Renewable Energy Fund (REF) provides grants and loan opportunities for eligible renewable energy technologies for preliminary feasibility studies as well as direct residential, commercial, and municipal installations. Funding is also offered for new renewable energy business ventures and innovative development. The fund is supported by a surcharge on electric customers' bills. The REF program is currently administered by the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation with the Office of Energy Resources providing assistance in development of the rules and regulations and evaluation of submitted REF applications. The new REF rules and regulations were approved by the Economic Development Corporation Board in December 2012.
For further information about the REF program, click here
Commercial and small scale incentives are currently available through the Renewable Energy Fund. For further details, please visit the following link: http://commerceri.com/finance/REF.php
Rooftop Solar Challenge II
The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources is participating in a regional effort called the New England Solar Cost-Reduction Partnership, which will target non-hardware "soft" costs of photovoltaic (PV) solar electricity systems and increase coordination throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA), a national nonprofit organization that works with state leaders, federal agencies, industry players, and other stakeholders to promote renewables and energy efficiency, will coordinate the initiative, which has been awarded $1.5 million under the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge II program.
The New England Solar Cost-Reduction Partnership will help strengthen the solar market in the five-state region with 13 million residents. The partnership will refine and deploy innovations developed in Connecticut and Massachusetts for DOE's Rooftop Solar Challenge I and will more widely implement solar best practices from around the region. Through this award, the OER will collaborate with agencies from the four other states to tackle a range of barriers to PV deployment, including permitting and interconnection challenges; the need for new financing tools; and planning and zoning rule variations.