The Rhode Island General Assembly has demonstrated its long-standing commitment to reducing the state’s energy costs through smart and economic investments in low-cost energy efficiency. This spring, the legislature approved a 5- year extension of Least Cost Procurement (LCP), the state’s policy of investing in as much low-cost energy efficiency as possible, and created the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, a new clean energy financing tool.
Least Cost Procurement, first implemented 8 years ago, is largely responsible for Rhode Island’s tie with Massachusetts for #1 state in the country for utility-sector energy efficiency programs and policies in the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy (ACEEE)’s 2014 State Scorecard. Investing in low-cost energy efficiency instead of expensive electricity and natural gas helps Rhode Islanders lower their energy bills and spurs economic growth. Lower utility bills means that Rhode Islanders have more money left at the end of the month to spend on other things, and most of that spending happens locally. Since 2008, Rhode Island has invested $558 million in energy efficiency and consumers have realized $1.99 billion in economic benefits.
The state’s investments in energy efficiency from last year alone are expected to generate 3,607 job years of employment, increase personal income by $244 million, and increase state tax revenue by $15 million over the next thirteen years.
The Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank (RIIB) will work to increase those benefits by utilizing loan-based financing to enhance the state’s energy efficiency programs and make energy efficiency projects more accessible for RI municipalities, residents, and businesses. The Efficient Buildings Fund at RIIB will provide energy efficiency financing to municipalities for upgrades to public buildings and facilities. RIIB will also administer Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for residential and commercial property-owners. PACE allows property owners to borrow money for clean energy upgrades and repay the loan on their property tax bill.
As the RIIB was developed, Acadia Center provided input to policymakers and key stakeholders and shared lessons learned from other states’ experience with clean energy financing. Going forward we will work with stakeholders as they implement RIIB and provide that same support. Acadia Center will continue to represent environmental interests on the Energy Efficiency and Resource Management Council to ensure that Rhode Island consumers benefit from the low cost, low risk energy efficiency resource.
Download Rhode Island’s Legislative Wrap-Up here.
Abigail Anthony leads Acadia Center’s Grid Modernization and Utility Reform initiative, focusing on changing regulatory and economic incentives in order to achieve a sustainable and consumer-friendly energy system. A Rhode Island native, Abigail is director of the Providence office and has played a leading role in advancing the state’s energy efficiency procurement policies.