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6/26/2017 Assembly approves bill to facilitate connection of renewable energy projects
STATE HOUSE – With final passage by the House of Representatives today, the General Assembly has passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Kenneth A. Marshall and Sen. Louis P. DiPalma to help encourage the development of more renewable energy generation projects in Rhode Island by facilitating their connection to the energy grid. The bill will now be forwarded to the governor.

The legislation (2017-H 5483B, 2017-S 0637A) would streamline projects’ interconnection with the energy grid and prohibit utilities from charging projects’ owners for any modifications to the grid that aren’t directly related to their own interconnection. It also sets forward timeframes for when the utility company must acknowledge and respond to interconnection applications and complete the work.

The sponsors said they view the legislation as both an economic development effort and a way to encourage the production of clean renewable energy.

“The production of green energy is one of the fastest-growing areas of our state’s economy, with great potential for more. The installation of renewable energy systems, and their subsequent product, is an economic development boon for Rhode Island. By making interconnection less of a hassle and eliminating undue expense, this legislation encourages more people to jump in and install renewable energy systems, creating jobs and generating dollars in our state,” said Representative Marshall (D-Dist. 68, Bristol, Warren).

Said Senator DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton, Little Compton), “Having a more certain timeline for when a project will be connected, and having some guarantees that the utility won’t be tacking on costs that aren’t really associated with the project will help potential developers of renewable energy projects line up financing, too. Removing the roadblocks to the connection process will encourage Rhode Islanders who might be thinking about installing a project to dive in, to help create clean, homegrown renewable energy, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and help create more green jobs in our state.”

The legislation would prohibit electrical distribution companies from charging an interconnecting renewable energy customer for system modifications that are not directly related to the interconnection, except accelerated modifications for which the developer is repaid when the modification would have otherwise been made. It would also require that any system modifications be completed no later than 270 days from when the renewable energy customer’s interconnection service agreement is effective, 360 days if the work involves a substation, or the customer’s agreed-upon expected interconnection date, subject to all payments being made in accordance with the agreement. There are additional time limits on how long the utility can take to respond to applications.

The sponsors said the bill was a collaborative effort by the General Assembly, the utilities and the Office of Energy Resources.

Cosponsors include Sen. James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton), Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), Sen. Adam J. Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick) and Sen. Nicholas D. Kettle (R-Dist. 21, Coventry, Foster, Scituate, West Greenwich), Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence), Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown), Rep. Daniel P. McKiernan (D-Dist. 7, Providence) and Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston).

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923