New report shows Rhode Island leadership in decade of U.S. renewable energy progress

Environment Rhode Island Research & Policy Center

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island ranks number one in the nation for energy efficiency improvements over the past decade, according to a new report released today by Environment Rhode Island Research & Policy Center. The project, Renewables on the Rise 2020, documents and compares the growth of five key clean energy technologies in each state over the past decade: solar power, wind power, battery storage, energy efficiency and electric vehicles. Rhode Island’s efficiency savings are 1.75 percentage points higher now than they were in 2010. 

“Rhode Island’s work in energy efficiency is proof positive that we are in the midst of a transformation of our energy system to the clean, efficient power of the twenty-first century,” said Brynn Furey, Energy Conservation and Efficiency Associate with Environment Rhode Island Research & Policy Center. “The gains we’ve seen, thanks in part to strict energy-saving guidelines for Rhode Island utilities and to energy efficiency incentives for consumers such as the property assessed clean energy (PACE) program, should give Rhode Islanders the confidence we need to aim even higher and continue making progress.” 

Last year, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked Rhode Island as the third most energy efficient state in the country, giving it perfect scores for utility programs with strong savings targets, combined heat and power initiatives — which capture energy that would otherwise be wasted and transform it into thermal energy for heating — and state government-led projects.

“Rhode Island continues to lead by making incremental improvements towards its long-term energy goals, paving the way for more affordable and healthy communities and a cleaner energy system,” said Carolyn Sarno-Goldthwaite, Senior Director of Advanced Efficiency Solutions at Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships. “NEEP applauds the Ocean State for offering programs that spur energy savings and supporting public policies for energy codes, zero energy schools, workforce development, and cost effectiveness.”

In addition to highlighting states that have made the most progress in adopting renewable energy technologies, the study also shows the rapid gains achieved overall nationally. In 2019, the U.S. produced 30 times more solar power and more than triple the amount of wind energy than it did in 2010. In addition to the growth in renewable energy, utility scale battery storage increased 20-fold since 2010, energy consumption per person declined thanks to improvements in energy efficiency, and more than one million electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. 

“This project offers a timely reminder that clean energy technologies and efficiency programs have risen to the occasion, and are already delivering for millions of Americans and Rhode Islanders,” Furey said. “We are so much closer to the clean, renewable energy future we need than we were ten years ago, and we should keep working to ensure that the next decade brings us even further.”


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