Business and groups ask Gov. Chafee for 10,000 solar rooftops in Rhode Island

Media Contacts
Channing Jones

Despite public support, RI lags on solar production, jobs

Environment Rhode Island

Providence – As Governor Chafee and state officials consider changes to Rhode Island’s renewable energy policies, Environment Rhode Island announced an open letter signed by twenty-seven clean energy businesses and organizations asking Gov. Chafee to set targets of “10,000 solar rooftops in Rhode Island by the year 2020 and 50,000 by 2030”.

“Despite the rapid growth of solar across the country, Rhode Island Islanders are beginning to miss out on the benefits of this energy source, which produces no pollution and incurs no fuel costs,” said Channing Jones, Program Associate with Environment Rhode Island. “We are counting on Governor Chafee and state leaders to take bold action to expand access to solar for homeowners, businesses, and community programs.”

Rhode Island lags in renewable energy production compared to other Northeast states, with over 97% of the power the state generates coming from natural gas, a fossil fuel imported from out-of-state. [1] Burning fossil fuels creates air pollution and contributes to global warming, an imminent threat for a low-lying coastal state like Rhode Island.

“In the 21st Century, we need to be transitioning to more locally produced clean energy,” added Jones. “It’s time for Rhode Island to step up and join the nation’s solar leaders.”

According to the State Solar Jobs Map report released today by the Solar Foundation, Rhode Island ranks 8 out of 10 in the Northeast in per capita solar jobs – dwarfed by Massachusetts in total solar jobs by a ratio of over 20:1.

“Setting solar goals and moving policy forward to advance solar adoption would allow solar to play a bigger role in Rhode Island’s energy portfolio,” said Charity Pennock with the New England Clean Energy Council. “Solar power will work with other renewable energy sources to create jobs here in Rhode Island and keep energy dollars in our local economy.”

The letter to the Governor comes as his administration considers changes to key renewable energy programs such as distributed generation – which requires to utility to purchase a certain amount of renewable energy produced in Rhode Island – and as it drafts a new State Energy Plan over coming months.

Today’s announced letter calls on Gov. Chafee to promote clean energy by:

  • Setting a bold long-term vision for solar energy in Rhode Island, with targets of 10,000 solar rooftops in Rhode Island by the year 2020 and 50,000 by 2030;
  • Incorporating these goals – and the policies that will achieve them––into Rhode Island’s new State Energy Plan;
  • In the short term, pursuing policies that incentivize solar production, lower barriers to installation, and require more renewable energy – including small-scale local projects – in Rhode Island’s energy mix.

Download a copy of the letter. 

[1] Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly (Nov 2012)