solar power shines on Rhode Island

solar power shines on Rhode IslandGoing solar? Good call. It’s the right choice for your pocketbook and for the climate. If everyone in Rhode Island used solar power, it would take 8 billion pounds of carbon out of the atmosphere every year—according to the EPA’s greenhouse gas calculator, that’s the equivalent of planting a forest that would cover an area more than four times the size of the state.

Solar power is a growing part of the energy mix in Rhode Island. Nationally, the state ranks #32 in solar energy use.

Solar Energy Pros And Cons

The biggest advantage of solar energy? The cost—$0. For the average Rhode Island household, generating all their own electricity with solar would save $1,201/year. Also, you’re doing a favor for the next generation. Instead of relying on natural gas plants, supplied by fracking and offshore drilling, and dangerous nuclear plants, which produce most of Rhode Island’s electricity, you’ll be producing your own clean, renewable energy. In Rhode Island, residential customers like you account for 32.3% of the state’s total energy consumption.

The disadvantages: The cost of installation. The average solar installation costs around $20,000. Incentives like the U.S. Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit can bring the overall cost down, over time. Rhode Island also exempts solar equipment from property tax, and provides grants for small-scale solar installations.

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need For My Home?

The average Rhode Island family uses 19,433 watts of energy on an average day. And, on average, they’ll get 4.25 hours of sweet Rhode Island sun each day. So, to get enough energy to keep the power running all night, they’ll need their solar power array to generate 4,572 watts of energy per hour while the sun’s out.

Assuming they go with 250-watt solar panels, the math is simple. 4,572 watts/hour divided by 250 watts/panel = 19 panels needed.

To figure out exactly what you’d need based on where you live in Rhode Island—and how much money you’d save—use this solar savings calculator:

Solar Trends In Rhode Island

Rhode Island has a high level of solar development, with strong incentives for residential solar, and substantial renewable energy policy goals that will lead to further solar development.

Rhode Island Solar Policy

Rhode Island was the first state to have an investment fund in renewable energy, the Rhode Island Renewable Energy Fund (RIREF), launched in 1997. RIREF funds solar projects and other renewables and is paid for with a surcharge on Rhode Islanders’ electric bills.

Rhode Island has an ambitious renewable energy portfolio standard: the state requires that 38.5% of the electricity sold there be renewable by 2035.

Like most states, Rhode Island mandates that its utilities provide net metering to their customers. Net metering deducts energy private solar/renewable operators have generated from the total cost of their utility bill and credits those small operators for any excess power generation that goes to the grid at large. Rhode Island recently expanded its systemwide net metering limit from 5 MW to 10 MW .

Rhode Island Solar Projects

Several Rhode Island schools used RIREF funds to install solar systems with up to 50 kW generating capacity.

A 21 MW solar farm is planned for construction in Cranston.

In February 2017, Gov. Gina Raimondo signed S112 into law, an extension of the Renewable Energy Growth Program. The offer is a fixed pricing model for the purchase of solar electricity over a 15- or 20-year term. Maximum limit is 40 megawatts per year.

In June 2017, a proposal was made to build a 46,000 panel, 18-megawatt solar farm in an Ashaway residential zone.

On June 7th, 2017, five students from the University of Rhode Island were the first students to graduate with a Certificate in Energy. The program was launched in early 2017.

Rhode Island Solar Advocates

Solarize Rhode Island, the Rhode Island branch of SmartPower, a solar advocacy group, assists Rhode Islanders with solar financing and installation.

ecoRI News is a Rhode Island is a pro-solar news outlet that covers energy issues in the state.

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