Energy Incentive Programs, Rhode Island

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Updated August 2015

Rhode Island’s utilities budgeted over $100 million for energy efficiency and load management programs in 2014.

What public-purpose-funded energy efficiency programs are available in my state?

A system benefits charge of at least 2 mills/kWh for energy efficiency programs and 0.3 mills/kWh for renewable energy programs is collected from customers. 

National Grid provides a variety of energy efficiency rebates and services to its electric customers covering efficient equipment such as chillers, lighting, HVAC, variable speed drives, and energy management systems. Custom incentives are also available. Another option is the Pay for Performance (P4P) program, which operates under a different model. Under P4P, an energy study is completed identifying potential energy efficiency measures (which must total at least 15% of the building’s usage); incentive payments are then based on the energy saved.

National Grid’s gas efficiency offering includes prescriptive rebates for efficient furnaces, boilers, and  infrared heaters. A variety of water heating systems, prescriptive controls, and kitchen equipment are also covered. Pre-approved custom projects receive an incentive based on the estimated first-year therm savings. However, incentives for custom projects are capped at 75% of the incremental project cost for new construction and 50% for retrofits. 50% of an approved energy efficiency engineering study is also covered up to $10,000. 
What utility energy efficiency programs are available to me?

For utility-administered energy efficiency programs, see the previous section.

What load management/demand response options are available to me?

The Independent System Operator New England Inc. (ISO-NE) offers its Demand Resources programs, which provide payments to electricity users for load reductions (of as little as 100 kW), either by reducing usage or operating on-site generation during periods of high demand.  Customers may participate in the programs through any participating member (“Market Participant”) of the New England Power Pool, such as a utility company, power marketer, competitive energy supplier, or independent curtailment service provider (CSP).  The Market Participant is allowed to aggregate load to reach the quantity qualification limit, so interested customers with less than 100 kW to offer may want to contact their utility or other eligible party. 

ISO-NE’s Forward Capacity Market (FCM) allows customers to bid their load reduction capabilities – whether constant (such as an indoor lighting retrofit project), seasonal (such as a new energy-efficient chiller plant), or dispatchable (such as a back-up generator or demand management actions) – into a forward capacity auction that allows demand-side resources to compete with supply-side ones.  Bids that are accepted are paid the auction clearing price.  These auctions take place annually for commitment periods three years in the future (though the qualification process begins roughly a year in advance). Interested facilities should contact a market participant regarding the auction schedule; in addition, market participants may have unfilled capacity commitments ahead of the next auction.

Market participation includes both active (conventional demand response, including real-time emergency generation) and passive (energy efficiency and distributed generation, including renewables) options. Active DR opportunities include:

  • Real-Time Demand Response, which provides an opportunity for customers to receive payments for responding to system emergencies.  Participants are paid a capacity payment (through the FCM) and for actual load reductions based on the real-time locational marginal price.  Customers must respond within 30 minutes and must be able to receive dispatch instructions through a market participant or their agent (“demand-designated entity”). Participating customers must also have interval metering installed at their facility.

  • Price-Responsive Demand, a real-time demand response option that allows participants to offer reductions into the day-ahead energy market.  These customers are paid for cleared reductions in the market and are expected to interrupt in real time (according to their offers).

  • Real-Time Emergency Generation, which is for generators whose federal, state, and local permitting limits operation to actual or imminent loss of external power.  Calls to participate are restricted to times when ISO-NE has instituted manual 5% voltage reductions. Real-Time Emergency Generation resources must be capable of curtailing end-use electric consumption from the New England grid within 30 minutes of receiving a dispatch instruction, and maintaining that curtailment until notified.  For an emergency generator that does not operate in parallel with the grid, the participating customer must have an interval meter installed on the generator (or entire facility). Otherwise, interval metering of both are required.

What distributed energy resource options are available to me?

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) provides information on programs in Rhode Island that offer incentives for renewable distributed generation. The following programs may be of interest to federal customers:

  • Rhode Island’s Renewable Energy Fund (REF) utilizes funds from the system benefit charge to provide low-interest loans and re-payable grants to support financially self-sustaining renewable projects. Both small-scale and commercial-scale projects are eligible.

  • Requests for power supply proposals are also issued by National Grid to assist them in meeting the requirement that a portion of their electricity sales comes from renewables. 

Are there energy efficiency programs sponsored by the state government?

The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources works in cooperation with National Grid to provide cash incentives through both the Large and Small Business Programs (see above for details). 

What additional opportunities are available to me?

Federal customers whose utilities have area-wide supply contracts through GSA (e.g. National Grid), may be able to take advantage of 3rd-party financed energy efficiency projects called utility energy services contracts (UESCs). Information is available in GSA’s Energy Division Library. Federal facilities should contact their account executive to determine the level of each utility's participation.