The recently ended legislative session let die two bills passed by the Senate, ones that on their face would seem to make strange bedfellows but which really are two sides of the same issue.
One bill would have allowed commercial and industrial electricity purchasers to participate in the state program that allows government, hospitals and other nonprofits to purchase energy created off-site by renewable sources, known as virtual net metering. The end result would have been to lower energy costs for businesses in Rhode Island, always an issue that dampens the state’s business development climate.
The other bill would have supported smart siting, a concept that encourages new solar energy projects to be located in landfills, gravel pits, brownfields and other industrial sites, rather than in open green space.
In an irony that is just a little rich, solar energy farms are being erected on land that previously had been forests, thereby reducing the potential of trees to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the air.
These failures could haunt us for years.