Leader Chippendale’s Legislation Restores Power of the Public Utilities Commission to Review Renewable Energy Supply
2024 Legislation | Printer Friendly View
State House, Providence – Rhode Island established a mandate, through the Act on Climate, of 100% renewable energy generation by 2033. Offshore wind generated energy has been identified as a critical component to meet this mandate. To date however, the only offshore wind energy generated for Rhode Island comes from the Block Island windfarm, a five-turbine, 30 MW project that was developed by Deepwater Wind, now known as Ørsted US Offshore Wind.
In 2021, Hurricane Henri made landfall over Westerly, RI, and other hurricanes and tropical storms have impacted or come close to the New England coastline. According to the US Department of Energy, wind energy turbines stop and enter into survival mode when wind speeds exceed 55mph. There is also some evidence that wind turbines can be damaged and become inoperative when wind exceed category 3 hurricane levels (111-129 mph). Rhode Island currently has no plan for how to provide backup electricity when renewable sources are down due to a natural disaster or emergency.
Rhode Island House Minority Leader Michael Chippendale, submitted legislation to better inform legislators, government bodies and the public, through restoration of power to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to oversee the renewable energy status in Rhode Island.
“The Act on Climate created energy goals that have already proven to be unrealistic,” said Chippendale. “It also eliminated one of the critical guardrails that ratepayers would rely upon to ensure that the goals in the Act are actually achievable. This legislation will reinstate the Public Utility Commission’s ability to review and reject unnecessarily high energy costs from project proposals during an economy when Rhode Islanders are suffering greatly. Lofty energy goals are one thing, but unrealistic goals that are financially crippling Rhode Islanders without any informed means of stopping or slowing them down, are further adding to the suffering of our everyday ratepayers. This legislation addresses this fatal flaw.”
The proposed legislation would:
The Brattle Report, commissioned in conjunction with Rhode Island’s Office of Energy Resources, detailed that the required renewable energy sources needed to reach the 2033 mandate would require 900-1100MW of new offshore wind energy. For comparison purposes, The Block Island wind farm currently generates 30MW and the recently rejected Revolution Wind Farm project would have provided 400MW for RI. The legislation will help to inform.
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