R.I. governor calls for RFP of up to 400 MW of renewables

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo on Feb. 5 called for the state’s Office of Energy Resources to work with utilities in the state to issue a procurement for up to 400 megawatts of renewable energy by this summer.

In March 2017, Raimondo announced a strategic goal to increase the amount of clean energy in the state by 10 times by the end of 2020, achieving a total of 1,000 MW of renewable energy projects.

The 1,000-MW goal called for a broad mix of renewable resources including offshore and onshore wind, hydro and solar.

In 2016, the baseline year for the goal, Rhode Island had approximately 100 MW of renewables. The first U.S. offshore wind farm, off the southern coast of Block Island, Rhode Island, began operating in December 2016 and has a capacity of 30 MW.

Rhode Island utilities that will be involved with the procurement are public power utility Pascoag Utility District, as well as investor-owned utility National Grid and Block Island Power Company.

Michael Kirkwood, general manager and CEO of Pascoag Utility District, noted that the public power utility’s piece will be very small, since its peak load is 13.4 MW, but said that the utility will be happy to participate in the process.

“Pascoag Utility District is very pleased to participate in this process which aims to bring more sustainable resources into Rhode Island,” he said. “Pascoag currently has a mix which includes 24% renewable energy composed of hydro, wind and solar resources, and together with its interest in the Seabrook nuclear power plant, has an excellent resource mix of 41% carbon free resources,” Kirkwood said.

“Pascoag would be very happy to add new renewable, cost-effective resources to increase its carbon free profile through the Governor’s announced program,” he went on to say.

 Specific details related to the request for proposals will be released at a later date.

At the end of 2016, Rhode Island’s energy mix consisted of about 138 MW of operational renewable energy projects, according to a section of the governor’s website related to the 1,000-MW goal.

As of the end of third quarter 2017, the state had approximately 92 MW of renewable energy generation capacity, resulting in a total of 230 MW.

Of that 230 MW total, 104 MW is onshore wind, 50 MW is solar, 35 MW is landfill gas/anaerobic digestion, 30 MW is offshore wind and 11 MW is hydroelectric power.