Rhode Island launches initiative to boost solar power on brownfields and carports

On March 28, 2019, the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources announced a new set of initiatives to encourage solar projects located on brownfields. The program also aims to boost the number of solar carports.

We have been listening to concerned citizens, business-owners, farmers, cities and towns, and environmental advocates about the need to encourage solar development on preferred sites such as closed landfills, former gravel pits and parking areas,” said State Energy Commissioner Carol Grant. “We are pleased to announce the availability of funds for these special projects so that Rhode Island may continue adding new sources of renewable energy while preserving our forests and natural habitats.

In March 2017, Governor Gina M. Raimondo set an ambitious goal to accelerate Rhode Island’s adoption of green energy and make the state’s energy system ten-times cleaner by 2020.

Since then, the state has tripled the size of its renewable energy portfolio and is on its way toward reaching 1,000 MW of clean energy by 2020. These new funding initiatives will further support clean energy adoption across local communities.

Brownfields—former industrial or commercial sites where future use is affected by real or perceived contamination—are often ideal locations for renewable energy projects.

Starting March 11, 2019, solar PV projects that are sited on brownfields are eligible for financial incentives from the Renewable Energy Fund. One million dollars have been earmarked for this initiative.

Solar carports – solar arrays typically installed over parking areas – help maximize the use of available space. One million dollars have been earmarked in the Commercial Scale Renewable Energy Fund for solar carports.

State funding for the solar brownfields and carports initiatives is made possible thanks to Rhode Island’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

Representatives of The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society of Rhode Island and Acadia Center issued this joint statement, “Our organizations welcome this effort by the state to incentivize solar energy in previously developed and disturbed areas like carports and brownfields. As members of the Renewable Energy Siting Stakeholder Committee, we are committed to finding additional approaches that will allow us to accelerate the pace of renewable energy development in line with Rhode Island’s climate goals while also protecting important habitats and natural resources.”

CommerceRI’s Renewable Energy Fund (REF) helps expand the role of renewable energy throughout Rhode Island by providing grants for clean energy projects that have the potential to produce electricity in a cleaner, more sustainable manner, while stimulating job growth in the green technology and energy sectors.

Applications will be accepted after June 3, 2019.

See Renewable Energy Fund website.

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