Already the second-lowest emitter of carbon dioxide in the United States, Rhode Island is carving a path for itself in renewable energy. Now, Rhode Island is setting its sights on solar. With about 100 days of sunshine each year, solar energy is becoming a more efficient and money-saving mode of electricity for Rhode Island residents.

Rhode Island’s Solar
Report Card

Grade
Methodology

To determine a grade for each state, our researchers and solar experts analyzed data on crucial solar-advancement criteria from the following sources:

We determined a rank from 1 to 10 for each state in each category. We then combined the scores with the following weights and assigned an overall grade for each state. Our goal is to encourage those considering solar for their homes to get a basic understanding of solar potential in their areas and discover the best opportunities for clean energy available.

Incentives & Rebates, 40%

Electricity Rate, 15%

Renewable Energy Policy, 30%

Interconnection Ease, 5%

Photovoltaic Potential, 10%

How Expensive is Electricity in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island homeowners pay an average of $.19/kWh for electricity, which is $.06 higher than the national average. Most of this electricity is supplied by natural gas. Switching to solar can ease the burden of high energy prices, and with recent significant drops in solar panel pricing, solar energy systems are viable investments for homeowners in Rhode Island.

Cost of Residential Electricity

Data from U.S. Energy Information Administration
*as of Q3 2015

Rhode Island
Library of Resources

Rhode Island Solar Policies & Incentives

In Rhode Island, state and government incentives can cover up to 50 percent of the cost of solar energy installations, making it possible to pay back a 5-kW solar installation in seven years. Large retailers like Whole Foods and Tiffany & Co. have gone solar in Rhode Island, and an estimated total of $8 million was invested by the state on solar in 2014. For residential users, there are also many opportunities to make solar energy affordable, including performance payments and sales tax exemptions, among others.

REBATES/INCENTIVES

Small-Scale Solar Grants (Commerce RI):

Incentives are available for solar PV projects, including grants for PV technologies that have a capacity of 10 kW. The grant is worth $1.15/W of capacity, with the dollar amount capped at $10,000. A system developer/installer has to apply for this grant on behalf of the owner of the solar project.

Renewable Energy Growth Program:

Performance-based incentives are offered to owners of solar PV systems in Rhode Island. The incentives depend on the system size as well as an installation’s geographic load zone area. Small-scale projects are considered 25 kW or less, while large-scale ones are between 1 MW and 5 MW.

Property-Assessed Clean Energy Financing:

Property owners in Rhode Island are permitted to borrow funds to pay for solar PV systems. These property owners usually pay back the loans through a special property assessment over the span of multiple years.

None for residential specifically

Commercial-Scale Renewable-Energy Grants:

Grants are currently offered for commercial-scale solar PV projects (systems larger than 10 kW). The incentive amount depends on the size of the solar project with a maximum of $350,000.

Energy Revolving Loan Fund:

This fund in Rhode Island offers low-interest loans for businesses for solar PV systems and other investments designed to save energy. The loan terms vary from five years to 10 years, and the interest rates are 1 percent to 3 percent according to the project.

POLICIES

Net Metering:

Net metering is allowed for Rhode Island solar PV systems that are 5 MW in capacity or less and that are intended to produce up to the total amount of electricity used by a home or commercial facility. The aggregate capacity limit is 3 percent of the peak load specifically for Pascoag Utility District and Block Island Power Company.

Rhode Island Renewable Energy Fund (RIREF):

A surcharge on gas and electric customers’ bills is used to support the state’s public benefits fund, which supports programs for renewable energy, including those for solar energy. The charge is currently $0.0003 per kWh.

Solar Easements:

Property owners in Rhode Island are allowed to create solar easements to make sure their solar PV systems maintain access to sunlight. These easements have to be established in writing and must include relevant property descriptions, descriptions of angles involved, the terms for the granting/termination of the easements, and provisions related to the compensation of property owners involved.

Interconnection Guidelines:

The process for applying for interconnection in Rhode Island (connecting a solar PV system to a utility company electric grid) has been standardized in the state. The process includes applying for an impact study and requesting a cost estimate for the interconnection.

None for residential specifically

None for commercial specifically

TAX CREDITS

None

Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit:

A tax credit is available in Rhode Island for solar PV systems, both off-grid and on-grid. The credit is equivalent to a quarter of the cost of a system and is applicable only to a residential installation. A system that costs up to $15,000 is eligible for the total 25 percent credit; a system that is more expensive will get a credit based on the $15,000 cost standard.

None for commercial specifically

TAX EXEMPTIONS

Property Tax Exemption for Renewable Energy Systems:

Towns and cities in Rhode Island are allowed to exempt solar PV systems from the taxation of properties. Particular residential solar power systems cannot be assessed at a value that is higher than that of a conventional heating system.

Renewable Energy Products Sales and Use Tax Exemption:

Certain alternative energy systems, which include solar PV power systems, are totally exempt from both the use tax and the sales tax in the state of Rhode Island.

Residential Solar Energy Property Tax Exemption:

Certain residential solar PV power systems may not to be assessed at a higher value than that of a traditional heating or energy system for property tax purposes.

None for commercial specifically

Companies, Contractors & Installers

Rhode Island has a growing solar industry, and the number of businesses providing solar energy services is growing, too. Here are a few solar installation companies to get you started.

Terrestrial Solar Survey, LLC

Terrestrial Solar Survey offers various renewable energy services, including solar energy system installation and design. The company also conducts site surveys acquires necessary permits for customers before installation.

Where it operatesTiverton, RI

Year of opening2012

RGS Energy

RGS provides solar energy systems for residential and small commercial buildings.

Where it operatesProvidence, RI

Year of opening1978

BCX Energy

BCX designs and maintains the solar energy systems they install for their customers. The company offers solar PV and solar thermal water heating systems for homes, business, schools and other facilities.

Where it operatesProvidence, RI

Year of opening2010

Achieve Renewable Energy, LLC

Specializing in renewable energy solutions, Achieve provides solar hot water and solar PV systems for new construction and established buildings alike.

Where it operatesSmithfield, RI

Year of opening2009

Island Solar

This Rhode Island company does site analysis, consultation and installation of solar PV and hot water systems.

Where it operatesJamestown, RI

Year of opening2005

Newport Solar

Newport Solar specializes in installing solar arrays. They do site analysis and guarantee their installations.

Where it operatesNewport, RI

Year of opening2009

CW Cummings Plumbing

CW Cummings doesn’t just specialize in plumbing. The company also provides its customers with solar heating options for their homes and pools.

Where it operatesCoventry, RI

Year of opening1991

Northeast Solar & Wind Power, LLC

Homeowners can choose from a variety of solar energy options with Northeast Solar & Wind Power. The company offers solar electric, skylights, attic fans, and heating for air, pools and water.

Where it operatesProvidence, RI

Year of opening2008

Resources

There are many state specific resources than can help you increase your knowledge of solar energy and other solar-related issues in Rhode Island. Here are a few resources you can check out for more information.

Rhode Island State Energy Office:

This site provides all the information you need regarding the energy programs and strategies in place in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission:

Here you can learn more about Rhode Island’s energy and electricity regulations.

State of Rhode Island General Assembly:

Be proactive about tracking current or pending solar energy legislation, and stay updated on legislative issues in Rhode Island.

DSIRE Incentives Database – Rhode Island:

All the solar energy incentives offered by Rhode Island are compiled here in a comprehensive list.

U.S. Energy Information Administration- Rhode Island State Profile:

All the energy and electricity data and statistics regarding Rhode Island can be found here put together from the U.S. government.