A bit of pleasant news as the session begins

Green Power As everybody knows, the state budget is a mess. But one glimmer of hope as the session gets underway: A ton of Reps and Senators (Dems and Repubs) have been approaching me about various posts on this blog and rifuture encouraging the vigorous development of renewable energy in Rhode Island, and suggesting that we position Rhode Island as a national leader in this arena.

The specifics could, and would need to, take a variety of forms. But as we look for a way to create jobs — and ideally jobs that fill real needs — Rhode Island is especially well positioned to exploit its long coastline and ample wind energy. (Solar, hydro, and wave power should be explored too, of course.)

As I’ve mentioned before, the first thing that we need to do is allow for net-metering — basically to let entities that put up renewables installations get paid for all the electricity they produce. (The alternative is for anything they produce above what they use to be pumped into the grid — essentially handed over to the utility — with no financial reward going to the producer.)

Deeper net metering would do away with a tremendous barrier to renewables production, and cost taxpayers NOTHING. Also crucial are a variety of targeted incentives, streamlining of permitting, and the creation of the Power Authority that died at the end of last year’s session.

(The other hopeful news is that we finally have labor advocates and environmentalists meeting to try to push a green jobs program. More on this as we move forward.)

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