Rhode Island's Renewable Energy Standard (RES), established in June 2004, requires the state's retail electricity providers -- including non-regulated power producers and distribution companies -- to supply 16% of their retail electricity sales from renewable resources by the end of 2019. The requirement began at 3% by the end of 2007, and then increases an additional 0.5% per year through 2010, an additional 1% per year from 2011 through 2014, and an additional 1.5% per year from 2015 through 2019.* In 2020, and in each subsequent year, the minimum RES established in 2019 must be maintained unless the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (PUC) determines that the standard is no longer necessary.
Eligible renewable resources include:
* Direct solar radiation
* Movement or the latent heat of the ocean
* The earth's heat
* Hydroelectric facilities not greater than 30 megawatts (MW) in capacity
* Biomass facilities using eligible biomass fuels and maintaining compliance with current air permits; eligible biomass fuels may be co-fired with fossil fuels, provided that only the renewable-energy portion of production from multi-fuel facilities will be considered eligible
* Fuel cells using renewable resources
For each obligated entity and in each compliance year, and for the purposes of meeting the RES, the amount of retail electricity sales derived from eligible renewable resources initially placed into commercial operation before December 31, 1997, may not exceed 2% of total retail electricity sales. Compliance with the RES may also be achieved through the purchase of New England Power Pool Generation Information System (NEPOOL-GIS) certificates or by making an alternative compliance payment of $64.02 per megawatt-hour (2012) to the state's Renewable Energy Development Fund. Voluntary green-power purchases may not be counted toward RES compliance. Annual compliance reports are available on the PUC web site shown above.
A separate and distinct standard established in June 2009 ("Long-Term Contracting Standard for Renewable Energy") requires electric distribution companies to solicit proposals and enter into long-term contracts for capacity, energy and attributes from new renewable energy facilities. Electric distribution companies will be required to enter into long-term contracts for 90 MW in capacity by 2014, of which 3 MW must come from in-state solar facilities. Distribution companies will be required to meet the following annual benchmarks, provided acceptable, commercially reasonable proposals have been received:
* 22.5 MW contracted by 12/30/2010 (25% of the total required amount)
* 45 MW contracted by 12/30/2011 (50% of the total required amount)
* 67.5 MW contracted by 12/30/2012 (75% of the total required amount), and
* 90 MW contracted by 12/30/2013 (100% of the requirement).
Each long-term contract must be reviewed and approved by the PUC. All energy and capacity purchased must be sold immediately by the distribution company into the wholesale spot market. Or, with PUC approval, the distribution company may re-sell the energy and capacity to customers. The NEPOOL-GIS certificates purchased under the long-term contract must be sold through a competitive bid process, or with PUC approval, may be used to meet the distribution company's RES obligations.
''* RES increases in 2011 and in subsequent years are subject to the PUC's findings.''