Solar power in Rhode Island

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Rhode Island population density

Solar power in Rhode Island has become economical due to new technological improvements and a variety of regulatory actions and financial incentives, particularly a 30% federal tax credit, available through 2016, for any size project. A typical residential installation could pay for itself in utility bill savings in 14 years, and generate a profit for the remainder of its 25 year life. Larger systems, from 10 kW to 5 MW, receive a feed-in tariff of up to 33.45¢/kWh.[1][2]

Due to the state's small size and comparatively low insolation, solar installations are limited to predominantly rooftop and megawatt scale installations. Approximately 23% of electricity used in Rhode Island could be provided from rooftop solar panels.[3]

Government policy[edit]

The Government of Rhode Island has taken a variety of actions in order to encourage solar energy use within the state. Nineteen schools have installed 2 kW or larger solar arrays that can be monitored on the Internet, similar to the programs in Australia and New Zealand.[4] A variety of solar arrays have been installed at state facilities, which can also be monitored.[5][6]

Net metering[edit]

The state has a net metering program that allows installations of up to 5 MW of on-site electrical generation to continuously roll over any excess generation to the next month, or purchased at avoided cost. Participation is limited to 3% of utilities peak demand for Block Island Power Company and Pascoag Utility District. National Grid has no limit.[7] Peak demand for the state for 2011 was 21,477 MW.[8]

Renewable portfolio standard[edit]

The state adopted a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2004 which requires that 16% of Rhode Island's electricity come from renewable resources by 2019.[9]

Installed capacity[edit]

Photovoltaics (MWp)[10][11][12][13][14][15][16]
Year Capacity Change % Change
2007 0.6
2008 0.6
2009 0.6
2010 0.6
2011 1.2 0.6 100%
2012 1.9 0.7 58%
2013 7.6 5.7 300%
2014 12.6 5.0 66%
2015 17.1 4.5 36%
2016 22.8 5.7 33%
2017 49.8 27 118%
2018 119.8 70 140%
2019 270.8 151 126%

Notable Projects[edit]

Forbes Street Solar array in East Providence – Phase I is a 3 megawatt array and was switched on in December of 2013, at the time it was one of the largest solar projects in New England. In December of 2018, Phase II went online with an additional 3 megawatts. [17]

Brown University, in partnership with Constellation and Energy Development Partners plan to build a 50 megawatt solar power plant in Kingston Rhode Island on a former gravel pit. [18] The project is estimated to offset approximately 70% of the University's energy consumption and is part of a larger effort to zero out their emissions by 2040. [19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rhode Island State Solar Power Rebates, Tax Credits, and Incentives Archived 2012-05-13 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Distributed Generation Standard Contracts Archived 2013-04-14 at
  3. ^ Report Argues for a Decentralized System of Renewable Power Generation
  4. ^ Solar Installation Map
  5. ^ RI lands $1.5M to install solar panels on state property
  6. ^ News Release
  7. ^ "Rhode Island - Net Metering". Retrieved 2012-06-08.
  8. ^ Semiannual Projections of Energy Supply and Demand Winter Outlook 2011- 2012 Archived 2012-05-26 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Renewable Energy Standard". 2011-08-10. Retrieved 2012-06-08.
  10. ^ Sherwood, Larry (August 2012). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2011" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 17. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  11. ^ Sherwood, Larry (June 2011). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2010" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 20. Retrieved 2011-06-29.
  12. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2010). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2009" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 23. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-25. Retrieved 2010-07-28.
  13. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2009). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2008" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 16. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-11-23. Retrieved 2010-07-24.
  14. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2012). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2012" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 16. Retrieved 2013-10-11.
  15. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2014). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2013" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2014-09-26.
  16. ^ Rhode Island Solar
  17. ^ East Providence Landfill Doubles Solar-Energy Output
  18. ^ Solar Industry Brown University Heads Toward 100% Solar And Wind
  19. ^ Little State, Big Power: Who’s Behind the Largest Solar Installation in Rhode Island?

External links[edit]