PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Senate has for the second year in a row passed legislation mandating the state reach 100% renewable electricity within the next decade.
The 34-4 vote on Tuesday turns into law a 2020 executive order by former Gov. Gina M. Raimondo outlining the ambitious renewable energy goal. The legislation calls for incrementally increasing the number of renewable energy credits that energy companies have to purchase – or else pay money into a fund – to offset their fossil fuel energy, reaching the equivalent of 100% of the state’s electricity use by 2033.
A prior version of the bill, sponsored by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, D-North Providence, initially required the 100% goal be met by 2030, but was pushed back to 2033 “allow time for necessary expansion of capacity,” the release stated.
Still, the timeline is the most ambitious of any state in the country, according to the release.
But whether it has enough support in the R.I. House to pass remains to be seen. A companion bill sponsored by R.I. Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, D-Jamestown, has been held in committee for further study since March. Last year, similar legislation passed the Senate but died in the House.
The Senate legislation appears to already have the backing of Gov. Daniel J. McKee, who named the renewable electricity goal one of his priorities in his Rhode Island 2030 plan. McKee has also put $37 million in his proposed fiscal 2023 budget for home and business owners to buy electric heat pumps, which are a critical piece of decarbonizing the heating sector, according to a 2021 report commissioned by the R.I. Office of Energy Resources.
Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. Contact her at Lavin@PBN.com.