Dozens of environmental groups, including the Acadia Center, signed a letter that was sent to state lawmakers Wednesday expressing their concerns about the scoop of energy efficiency funding, which is about 10 percent of the total funds collected for the programs.

Niedowski said the funds for Rhode Island’s energy efficiency programs are collected from electricity ratepayers. She said the state needs to keep using that money for its intended purpose.

“If you divert those ratepayers’ funds to another purpose, that essentially amounts to an energy tax because this money is collected from ratepayers and then would be transferred and used for other purposes,” Niedowski said.

Niedowski said Rhode Island has been a leader in energy efficiency, but that could change if funding for those programs is cut.

“The less energy efficiency we do here in Rhode Island will make it more difficult and (maybe even impossible) to reach our climate goals in the state,” Niedowski said.

Read and listen to the full story from Rhode Island Public Radio here.