Across Rhode Island, clean energy is booming – reducing pollution, cleaning our air, creating jobs and saving money. Contributing to the boom is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – America’s best regional clean air and climate program – which is limiting pollution and generating funding for clean energy programs.
But we can do much more. We have the tools to power our society entirely with clean energy sources like the wind and the sun, while also using energy more efficiently. Clean energy can help protect Providence from the worst impacts of global warming, such as sea-level rise, and build a healthier and more prosperous future.
To accelerate our progress, Rhode Island and other New England states should double the strength of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to help create an even stronger market for clean energy.
Here’s how more clean energy can benefit Providence – and Rhode Island:
Rhode Island Has Immense Renewable Energy Potential
Rhode Island could generate 12 times more electricity with solar and wind power than it uses in the course of a year. Tapping even a fraction of that potential could enable Rhode Island to power itself entirely with clean energy.
Clean Energy Can Replace Dirty Fuels
Rhode Island has the potential to generate 15 times more electricity from wind and solar than is currently produced by polluting fuels, like gas, in the state.
Providence’s Rooftops Can Generate Clean Electricity Locally
More than 8 out of 10 small buildings in Providence have the potential to host rooftop solar panels – providing reliable electricity for residents and reducing dependence on fossil fuels, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Rhode Island Has Tremendous, Untapped Wind Energy Potential
Rhode Island has the potential to produce enough power with onshore and offshore wind turbines to power all of the homes in Rhode Island 30 times over.
Energy Efficiency Is Saving Money and Cutting Pollution
Rhode Island ranks 4th among states for energy efficiency, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Energy efficiency programs implemented in 2015 in Rhode Island saved enough energy to power half of the homes in Providence.
Clean Energy Creates Jobs
More than 1,100 people in the Providence area are employed in solar energy jobs. Across the state, clean jobs employ nearly 14,000 people.
Renewable Energy is Good Business
Businesses and organizations in Providence and across Rhode Island benefit from a growing clean energy economy. For example, the door to a brand new industry – offshore wind power – is now open in Rhode Island. The Block Island Wind Farm recently became the nation’s first operating offshore wind energy facility.
Stronger Action Will Make Us Healthier
Clean air means better health. In its first six years, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative saved 10 lives in Rhode Island and prevented 730 missed work days due to respiratory illness, according to Abt Associates. Cutting pollution faster would save even more lives and improve public health in Rhode Island.
Stronger Action Will Boost Our Economy
Between 2009 and 2014, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative boosted Rhode Island’s economy by $90 million, according to reports by Analysis Group. Doubling the strength of the program as part of a larger climate change program could reduce energy bills in the nine participating states by $25 billion and create nearly 60,000 new jobs, according to a report by the Sierra Club.
Rhode Island Should Take the Lead
Rhode Island has set strong goals on clean energy and fighting climate change – now it’s time to achieve them. Governor Raimondo should double the pace at which Rhode Island is cutting pollution and investing in clean energy. In 2017, the state should strengthen the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to cut carbon pollution by 5 percent per year – and persuade neighboring states to do the same.
1. Pg 1: Renewable potential chart heading Renewable energy potential: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “United States Renewable Energy Technical Potential,” 2012 for wind, 2016 for solar, available at: www.nrel.gov/gis/re_potential.html; Current consumption: U.S. Energy Information Administration, “State Electricity Profiles,” 2015, available at: www.eia.gov/electricity/state
2. Pg 2: “polluting fuels, like gas, in the state.” Renewable energy potential: Ibid., Fossil fuel generation: U.S. Energy Information Administration, “State Electric Power Industry Generation by Primary Energy Source,” 2014, available at www.eia.gov/electricity/data/state
3. Pg 2: “data from the U.S. Department of Energy.” U.S. Department of Energy, State & Local Energy Data, “Buildings and Industry Summary,” available at apps1.eere.energy.gov/sled/#
4. Pg 2: “STATE X times over.” Wind potential: see note 1; Household energy usage: U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Average Monthly Residential Electricity Consumption, Prices, and Bills by State,” available at www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=97&t=3; Homes: U.S. Census Bureau, “Quick Facts,” available at www.census.gov/quickfacts
5. Pg 3: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, “State Energy Efficiency Scorecard,” 2016, available at aceee.org/state-policy/scorecard
6. “homes in PLACE X times.” Savings: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, “Net Incremental Savings From Electricity Efficiency,” 2015, available at database.aceee.org/sites/default/files/docs/spending-savings-tables.pdf; Home energy usage: Household energy usage: U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Average Monthly Residential Electricity Consumption, Prices, and Bills by State,” available at www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=97&t=3; Homes: U.S. Census Bureau, “QuickFacts.”
7. pg 3: The Solar Foundation, 2015 National and State Solar Jobs Census, www.thesolarfoundation.org/solar-jobs-census; State data: BW Research Partnership, Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources Staff, and Executive Office of Commerce, Rhode Island Clean Energy 2016 Industry Report,2016
8. Pg 3: Gideon Weissman, Frontier Group and Travis Madsen, Environment America Resarch & Policy Center, Carbon-Cutting Success Stories, 2016
9. Pg 4: “due to respiratory illness.” Abt Associates, Analysis of the Public Health Impacts of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, 2009-2014, January 2017
10. pg 4: “according to reports by Analysis Group.” Analysis Group, The Economic Impacts of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative on Nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States, First and Second Three-Year Compliance Reviews, 2011 and 2015
11. pg 4: “report by the Sierra Club.” Sierra Club, Pace Energy and Climate Center, and Chesapeake Climate Action Network, The RGGI Opportunity 2.0, 4 March 2016