Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced today that the state will pursue a competitive request for proposals (RFP) to procure up to 600 MW of new offshore wind energy. The state is home to North America’s first operational offshore wind farm (Block Island) and, in 2019, received a critical state approval for the 400-MW Revolution Wind offshore project. This latest effort is in-line with Governor Raimondo’s Executive Order 20-01, which placed Rhode Island on a path toward meeting 100% of its electricity demand with renewable energy resources by 2030.

“In the face of global climate change, Rhode Island must drive toward a cleaner, more affordable and reliable clean energy future,” said Governor Raimondo. “It is critical that we accelerate our adoption of carbon-free resources to power our homes and businesses, while creating clean energy jobs. In January, I set a nation-leading goal for Rhode Island to meet 100 percent of its electricity demand with renewables by 2030. Offshore wind will help us achieve that bold, but achievable goal, while creating jobs and cementing our status as a major hub in the nation’s burgeoning offshore wind industry.”

The competitive RFP will be developed by National Grid, with oversight by the state Office of Energy Resources, and is subject to approval by the Public Utilities Commission. As of the second quarter of 2020, Rhode Island counted 933 MW of renewable energy in its portfolio, representing a nine-fold increase since 2016.

“Among U.S. jurisdictions, Rhode Island is the pioneering state in the offshore wind field,” said Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. “Given its first-in-the-water status, Rhode Island has positioned itself as a premier destination for offshore wind companies, suppliers, and related enterprises. Under Governor Raimondo, we are pleased to be pursuing a second significant expansion of our turbine constellation, and we look forward to partnering with the industry and key stakeholders to ensure the success of this expansion.” A draft RFP will be filed with state regulators this fall. If approved, a final RFP is anticipated to be issued to the marketplace in early-2021. Any contracts for offshore wind projects resulting from this competitive process will also require separate regulatory approvals.

“Our state, communities and local economies are facing unprecedented challenges as we confront the COVID-19 pandemic, but now more than ever, it’s imperative that we lean into our shared commitments to enable and progress the clean energy transition,” said Terry Sobolewski, President of National Grid Rhode Island. “Expanding large scale renewables across Rhode Island is crucial to delivering clean reliable, affordable, energy for our customers and future generations. We look forward to working with the Office of Energy Resources and other key stakeholders on this important effort.”

This call for additional offshore wind resources is the latest in a series of actions that is increasing the state’s renewable energy capacity. In March 2017, Governor Raimondo set an ambitious goal to accelerate Rhode Island’s adoption of green energy and make the state’s energy system ten-times cleaner by the end of 2020. Today, the state is more than 90% of the way toward meeting that goal. Building on this success, in January 2020, Governor Raimondo signed a new executive order committing Rhode Island to meet 100% of its electricity demand with renewables by the end of the decade – a nation-leading initiative. Executive Order 20-01 directs the state’s Office of Energy Resources to conduct an economic and energy market analysis and develop actionable policies and programs to reach this goal. Rhode Island is also home to nation-leading, cost-effective energy efficiency programs and recently released a comprehensive report on Heating Sector Transformation in support of a decarbonized energy future.

“The transition to a just and clean energy economy cannot happen fast enough. The next 10 years must be a decade of action if we are going to reach our goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by moving to a majority of renewable resources,” said NECEC President Peter Rothstein. “With this announcement, Governor Raimondo recognizes that investments in offshore wind not only move us closer to 100 percent renewable electricity, but also put Rhode Island in a pole position to reap the economic benefits that this industry will deliver.”

News item from Rhode Island Governor’s Office

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