Rotary municipalities expand access to renewable energy – ecoRI News


By ecoRI News staff

The towns of Providence and Central Falls and the towns of South Kingstown and Barrington recently received approval from the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to expand access to renewable electricity at competitive rates.

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), also known as municipal energy aggregation and community electricity aggregation, allows a municipality to source wholesale electricity for residents and businesses. , with the aim of increasing the renewable content of the electricity used by the entire community. while keeping the supply rate stable and affordable.

The four municipalities are the first in Rhode Island to participate in the program. Advocates say this is a major step towards energy democracy, as each municipality’s plan sets out a vision for delivering competitively sourced and cleaner electricity. Together, these municipalities, with some 80,000 households, make up nearly 20 percent of all residences in Rhode Island.

For Providence, Central Falls, South Kingstown and Barrington, the CAA process began in 2019, when the city and city councils approved the development of aggregation plans. The municipalities retained the services of a New York-based consultant, Good Energy, to help them develop their individual plans, obtain the required regulatory approval and launch the programs.

Providence has identified CCA as a crucial part of its 2019 climate justice plan and as a path to implement energy democracy. The city worked with a diverse group of community counselors to solicit input and feedback on the plan.

“By getting our own electricity,” said the mayor of Providence, Jorge Elorza, “we believe the program can reduce costs for our residents while obtaining more and more renewable energy, thus contributing to health. of our community and our planet. ”

Central Falls, in July 2019, was the first municipality to authorize the development of a plan and, last July, was the first to submit a plan to the PUC for review.

“Through electricity aggregation, Central Falls seeks to increase the amount of renewable energy used by the community and to ensure an affordable and stable supply of electricity for our businesses and residents,” said the Mayor of Central Falls. , Maria Rivera. “The significant investments we’ve made to increase the tree canopy and green stormwater infrastructure throughout our city are helping mitigate the effects of climate change, and now we’re getting right to the root of the problem by choosing energy.” clean rather than fossil fuels. . “

South Kingstown joined Providence and Central Falls on the initial acquisition of an aggregation consultant, which focused on financial and environmental goals, according to Good Energy.

“Our goal is to empower people to make choices that are good for the planet, with the added benefit of being able to save South Kingstown residents money on electricity bills,” said the director of the Town of South Kingstown, Rob Zarnetske. “For a community threatened by rising sea levels, this approval is an important step in the right direction.”

With the support of his Resilience and Energy Committee, Barrington quickly developed the program plan, soliciting public comments and submitting the final version to the PUC.

“Barrington is one of the most sensitive municipalities in Rhode Island to the effects of sea level rise,” said Jim Cunha, City Manager of Barrington. “It is time for the residents of Barrington to step up and do everything in their power to tackle this environmental crisis. Approval of the community aggregation program is an important step in the right direction. “

With PUC approvals, the four municipalities are ready to tender for the supply of electricity, after which they will launch extensive education and awareness campaigns. The programs could be launched as early as this fall, according to Good Energy.

Good Energy has also been selected by Portsmouth and Newport to develop their aggregation plans to be submitted to the PUC for review in the coming months.

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