State and Local Policy Database

Rhode Island

State Scorecard Rank


Rhode Island

39.5Scored out of 50Updated 12/2020
State Government
Score: 6 out of 6
State Government Summary List All

The state devotes a portion of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative revenues to programs for energy efficiency upgrades. In addition, the state has an active PACE financing program. The state government leads by example by requiring efficient public buildings and fleets, benchmarking energy use, and encouraging energy savings performance contracts. Research focused on efficient efficiency is conducted through the Energy Fellows Program at the University of Rhode Island.

Financial Incentives List All

Financial incentive information for Rhode Island is provided by the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE Rhode Islandand State Energy Office contacts. Information about additional incentives not present on DSIRE is listed here. In addition to the state-funded incentives on DSIRE and below, Rhode Island has enabled Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing and has one active program. For additional information on PACE, visit PACENation. The Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank (RIIB) administers the state C-PACE program and Efficient Buildings Fund for the state.

LED Streetlight Program: $3.8 million in RGGI funding shall be allocated to assist state agencies and municipalities make cost-effective, energy saving investments in LED (light emitting diode) lighting and associated control technologies. This program will be jointly administered by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and the Office of Energy Resources.

Efficient Buildings Fund: Administered by the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, this revolving loan fund finances energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for municipally owned buildings and school facilities, as well as quasi-governmental agency buildings.

Block Island Saves: The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) has allocated $500,000 of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) funds to help New Shoreham residents and small businesses improve their energy efficiency.

Charge Up!: Offers incentives to state agencies and municipalities interested in installing electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE or charging stations) at publically-accessible facilities, and supports the purchase or lease of electric vehicles (EVs) for integration into public sector fleets.

Last Updated: July 2018

Equity Metrics and Workforce DevelopmentList All

Community and stakeholder engagement

The Office of Energy Resources has developed public participation guidance to begin addressing the inherent inequities that exist in public participation processes. As part of this effort, the Office of Energy Resources is gathering data and information about who in our communities is attending public workshops. Following these workshops on clean energy initiatives (such as the state’s goal of meeting 100% of electricity demand with renewables by 2030), OER circulates a survey to workshop participants via email to collect anonymous demographic data. When collated, this information provides insight on which voices were in the room and which were underrepresented. In turn, that insight can be used to improve our participation processes and enhance diversity.

For Community Solar efforts, OER ran a White Glove Pilot Program to guide two electric distribution customers on the Income-Eligible rate (A-60 customers) through signing up and participating in Rhode Island’s Community Solar opportunities. The purpose of this pilot was for OER to better understand the needs and challenges of A-60 customers regarding participation in Community Solar opportunities as well as supporting a more equitable distribution of the benefits of Community Solar. OER also established a Low and Moderate Income (LMI) working group specific to Community Solar. This group discussed various barriers to participation that existed and attempts to address them through program changes.

Other efforts included partnering with trusted community organizations to establish foundational definitions pertaining to energy equity and using those to collaboratively develop equity metrics that can be used to track and monitor progress as part of Rhode Island’s 100% Renewable Electricity by 2030 Report. Additional agencies that OER worked to establish ongoing relationships with included Rhode Island Housing and the Rhode Island Office of Diversity, Equity & Opportunity. Community organizations that OER also partners with for these efforts include, but are not limited to, Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), Groundwork RI, the Racial and Environmental Justice Committee, the George Wiley Center, People’s Port Authority, Youth in Action (YIA), and NeighborWorks. To better conduct and assist with these community outreach efforts, OER also hired a full-time Energy Justice Program Manager.

Goals and metrics for tracking progress

The Office of Energy Resources (OER), recognizing the importance of equity in energy programs, hired a full-time Energy Justice Program Manager in 2019. This staff member is focused on energy equity and is integrated into all of OER's workstreams to help explore specific policies and data around improving the equity of our state’s energy work. Recommendations made by the Energy Justice Program Manager that have been implemented by OER include: equity focused on public participation protocols and guidance, updated data demonstrating energy burden in communities across Rhode Island, and the beginning of an effort to map current deployment of clean energy assets and investments, as can be seen in the map of electric vehicle charging stations in the State.

Other state reports and utility-based programming in Rhode Island have included targeted funding and recommendations to increase investment in sectors or areas serving marginalized communities. Thanks to the efforts of this position, the State and the utilities are making a concentrated effort to track the success and efficacy of these efforts and develop additional metrics, with significant community input, to evaluate how local marginalized groups are impacted by energy policy and programming.

Rhode Island's State Energy Plan - Energy 2035 - establishes a number of policies that direct support towards low-income and underserved customers. Specifically, it charges the Department of Human Services to oversee the WAP and LIHEAP programs, including the Henry Shelton Act which provides enhanced funding (~$6.5-$7.5million per year) from the State to the LIHEAP program. There is also a provision calling for the continued exploration of targeted energy efficiency programming for delivered fuels customers, which is an underserved population in Rhode Island. One outgrowth of this effort was that in 2019, through the Utility run Energy Efficiency (EE) program, delivered fuels customers were able to receive enhanced incentives for Air Source Heat Pump installations. The recently released Heating Sector Transformation in Rhode Island Report also advocates for the equitable transition of the heating sector through its policy recommendations, and encourages program designs that deliver appropriate incentives and financing opportunities for low-income customers that address first-cost barriers and energy burdens, and tracks the success of those efforts. Lastly, the utility's annual energy efficiency plans dictate a certain amount of spending on the income-eligible (e.g., low-income) sector. In 2019's Annual Energy Efficiency Plan (Docket 4888) National Grid sets funding levels of residential income eligible programs at 14% of implementation funding for electric programs and 26% of implementation funding for natural gas programs.

Clean energy workforce development

Increasing the size and skill of the Rhode Island clean energy workforce has been a priority since the inception of the State Energy Plan in order to ensure all cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities can be pursued. A component of the Grid Modernization Working Group was focused on identifying barriers in the workforce supply chain and developing strategies for recruitment and training to mitigate those. That focus is echoed in the recently released Heating Sector Transformation Report, which identifies workforce growth - particularly in emerging technology areas like heat pumps - as a key strategy to deploy in order to meet Rhode Island's decarbonization goals. In order to implement these strategies, the State has often utilized the Utility run energy efficiency programs as a vehicle for enhancing the workforce through targeted training and recruitment opportunities (often with waived enrollment fees). This partnership has led to significant growth in the RI clean energy workforce over the years, with a 25% increase in jobs since 2015. Additional emphasis is being placed on workforce development in the 2021-2023 Three-Year plan cycle currently under development, with a focus on increased contractor training around heat-pump technology, enhanced recruitment and partnerships with colleges/universities/vocational schools to promote Energy Efficiency as a career, providing more training opportunities to existing workers looking to upskill or transition away from work in the delivered fuels sector, and promoting more participation in building operator certification trainings, to name a few. The Office of Energy Resources collaborates with the Rhode Island Commerce Department each year to conduct a clean energy jobs report in order to track the industry and find ways to support growth, which is in direct service of Gov. Raimondo's 20,000 clean energy jobs by 2020 goal.

Last Updated: July 2021

Carbon Pricing PoliciesList All

Rhode Island is a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade program for reducing GHG emissions in North America that began its compliance period in 2009. Capping CO2 emissions from the power sector, the program aims to reduce emissions by 45% below 2005 levels by 2020 and additionally by 30% by 2030. Since 2012, 68% of Rhode Island's RGGI auction proceeds have gone towards support of energy efficiency policies and programs ($56,001,952.42 eligible to disburse; $38,255,991.64 dedicated to EE).

Rhode Island is also a participant in the Transportation and Climate Initiative’s effort to develop a cap-and-invest program for transportation emissions. This team is engaged in modeling, outreach, and program development efforts and released a draft MOU to the public for feedback in December of 2019. That MOU is expected to be finalized in the fall of 2020, with delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rhode Island began conductions a Carbon Pricing Study at the end of 2019 that is researching potential policy options for State and Regional carbon pricing in order to inform state legislators, policymakers, and stakeholders about the availabel options and potential impacts.

The utility tracks avoided greenhouse gas emissions and reports that as part of its annual energy efficiency programs. The 2019 Annual Energy Efficiency Plan expected to avoided 1.1. million tons of carbon and the 2020 Annual Energy Efficiency Plan expects to avoid 1.06 million tons of carbon over the lifetime of implemented measures. Not only does the utility project these numbers in its annual planning process, but it then reports on the actuals in the year-end reports - National Grid's 2019 year end report is available here. Also, GHG reductions from the State's EE programs is included in the Statewide GHG inventories. The most recent version looked at 2016 emissions and was completed by the Department of Environmental Management in 2019, available here.

Last Updated: July 2020

Building Energy Disclosure List All

There is no disclosure policy in place; however, a working group consisting of the Office of Energy Resources, Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, the Energy Efficiency and Resource Management Council, National Grid, and the Rhode Island Realtors Association was formed in 2014. The group developed a work plan to begin taking steps toward eventual legislation mandating energy disclosure for the residential and commercial sectors. Recognizing that such a mandate could be controversial, the state is starting by developing relationships, building a knowledge base, and piloting a voluntary program.

A National Grid pilot program will provide 150 homes with home energy scores as part of their energy audits, with work beginning in 2018 and concluding in 2019. Working in partnership with Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP), Rhode Island has been utilizing their HELIX system to get RI home energy rated buildings listed in that database. Rhode Island also offered training to assessors and real estate agents providing education about the value and benefits of green buildings and how to incorporate that information into valuations. Lastly, the National Grid and Portfolio Manager automation and integration work has been completed and is being promoted to customers.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Public Building Requirements List All

In December 2015, Governor Gina Raimondo signed Executive Order 15-17, establishing a Lead by Example program within the state's Office of Energy Resources (OER) to oversee and coordinate efforts at state agencies to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. It also requires the State Energy Office to post State energy usage publicly, which shall include energy use for each State agency and progress in reducing energy usage below the fiscal year 2014 baseline, and state agencies are required to achieve a 10 percent reduction in energy consumption by 2019, from a FY 2014 baseline. The Lead by Example Initiative achieved its 10% reduction in energy consumption in state agencies by 2019. OER and its partner agencies released voluntary residential and commercial stretch codes in 2018. OER has also begun using web-based centralized utility billing for state agencies for both electricty and natural gas, which has streamlined payment, reporting, and tracking capabilities for the State.

The state has several other energy benchmarking efforts underway, requiring governmental borrowers from the Efficient Buildings Fund to track energy for at least five years. The University of Rhode Island Energy Team works with municipalities and school districts to do energy benchmarking using Portfolio Manager (and develop public energy management plans). The National Grid automation and integration with Portfolio Manager has now been completed and is being promoted to customers as a convenient and efficient way to track and manage building energy usage. Additionally, Rhode Island State Government, as part of the Lead by Example initiative, is using EnergyCAP to automate billing and to track and share state energy usage data for all of its buildings.

In January 2013, the State of Rhode Island signed onto the Better Buildings Challenge, which committed the State to reducing energy consumption in state facilities by 20% by 2020 below 2010 levels. In partnership with the University of Rhode Island, RI Office of Energy Resources (OER) developed an energy data inventory that includes of electricity and natural gas consumption for 100% of state building square footage. The state is in the process of matching properties with energy data and is seeking proposals for a web-based utility bill management application to streamline reporting and tracking capabilities.

The state has also established the Rhode Island Public Energy Partnership (RIPEP), which is a 3-year (2012-2015), U.S. Department of Energy-funded collaborative effort to achieve deep energy savings in state and municipal facilities and build a sustained, effective infrastructure for ongoing savings. Led by the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources, RIPEP brought together the Office of Energy Resources, National Grid, URI Outreach Center, Narragansett Bay Commission, Energy Efficiency and Management Council, and other key public and private sector representatives. The project completed in 2015 and achieved the following results:

  • Established energy data baseline inventories for all public facilities, including 546 municipal, 331 school and approximately 900 state facilities, for a total of about 1,777 facilities.
  • Performed 39 energy audits covering over 1.8 million square feet.
  • Implemented 123 energy efficiency projects for total energy savings of 28.6% or 4,748 MMBTU.
  • Utilized over $5 million in rebates and on-bill repayment funds, including $2.5 million in RGGI funds, to support project implementation.
  • Identified barriers to implementing energy efficiency in the public sector then addressed these barriers through master price agreements, expanded and enhancing financing and incentive options, and extensive technical assistance.

In addition to recent programs, The Green Buildings Act (November 9, 2010) requires that all major facility projects of public agencies be designed and constructed to at least the LEED certified or an equivalent high performance green building standard. Under the Green Buildings Act, the Department of Administration is responsible for monitoring and documenting ongoing operating savings that result from this Act and annually publish a public report of findings and recommended changes in policy. Additionally, the Act required the Department of Administration to create a green buildings advisory committee composed of representatives from the design, construction, lumber and building materials industries involved in public works contracting, personnel from affected public agencies and school boards that oversee public works projects and others at the department's discretion to provide advice on implementing this section. The advisory committee makes recommendations regarding an education and training process and an ongoing evaluation or feedback process to help the department implement this section.

Last Updated: July 2020

Fleets List All

Per the new Executive Order 15-17, the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance ("DCAMM"), within the Department of Administration, in coordination with OER, is developing strategies for reducing fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions from the State fleet, with the goal of ensuring that a minimum of 25 percent of new light-duty state fleet purchases and leases will be zero-emissions vehicles by 2025.

Executive Order 05-13 (August 22, 2005) requires that state fleet purchases of motor vehicles comply with the Energy Policy Act of 1992 by ensuring that a minimum of 75% of new vehicles purchased are alternative fuel vehicles and the remaining 25% are hybrid-electric vehicles. All new light duty-trucks in the state fleet will achieve a minimum of 19 mpg city for the fleet and be certified as at least a low-emission vehicle. All new passenger vehicles will achieve a minimum of 23 mpg city for the state fleet. The order also discourages the purchase of sport utility vehicles, calling on all state agencies to purchase the most economical, fuel-efficient and low emission vehicles appropriate to the mission.

The Lead by Example initiative has given Rhode Island state government an opportunity to lead by example by increasing the number of zero-emissions and partial-zero-emission vehicles (electric, hybrid electric) and compressed natural gas vehicles in the State Fleet. As of May 2020, 30 vehicles have been ordered. Increasing the number of zero-emissions vehicles is a critical part of the States goal to reduce both transportation related air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Electric, hybrid electric and compressed natural gas vehicles can help increase energy security, improve fuel economy, lower fuel costs, and reduce emissions.

Last Updated: July 2020

Energy Savings Performance Contracting List All

The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources lists ESPCs as one of the main ways it promotes energy efficiency and cites funds used to engage energy service companies to use ESPCs. The state provides a model contract and a list of qualified ESCOs.

Last Reviewed: July 2020

Research & Development List All

The University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension created the Energy Fellows Program to place students with various energy companies, agencies, and organizations throughout the state to get workforce training and learn about Rhode Island energy issues. Most of the 2018 participants conduct research and outreach on energy efficiency. 

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Score: 6 out of 9
Buildings Summary List All

Residential and commercial buildings are required to comply with the 2015 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2010 with state-specific weakening amendments. Rhode Island now has a voluntary stretch code for commercial and residential buildings. Rhode Island has completed a comprehensive set of activities to ensure code compliance.

Residential Codes List All

On July 1, 2019, Rhode Island formally adopted the 2015 IECC for residential buildings, with state-specific amendments. The code went into effect on August 1, 2019 and is mandatory statewide. While Rhode Island is a home rule state, towns are not permitted to adopt a code that is different from the state's. The code contains several amendments that diverge from the ICC published version of the 2015 IECC. The residential code utilizes the 2009 IECC insulation tables, which is not as rigorous as the 2012 IECC.  Rhode Island requires performance testing but does not require that the air exchange rate meet code. As part of Rhode Island’s Energy Efficiency Procurement Plan, a Building Codes & Standards Initiative was approved by the RI Public Utilities Commission, and a stated feature is the continued support and maintenance of a “stretch” code targeting “15% more energy efficiency than buildings constructed according to the prevailing path.” This effort was pursued in conjunction with the RI Building Code Commission and the RI Builder’s Association.

Issued in December, 2015, Executive Order 15-17 directs the Office of Energy Resources to coordinate with the Energy Efficiency and Resource Management Council, National Grid, and the Green Building Advisory Committee to establish a voluntary aspirational or stretch building code based on the International Green Construction Code or equivalent by 2017. Rhode Island currently has a voluntary stretch code for both commerical and residential buildings.

Last Updated: September 2020

Commercial Code List All

On July 1, 2019, Rhode Island formally adopted the 2015 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2010 for commercial buildings, with state-specific amendments. The code went into effect on August 1, 2019 and is mandatory statewide. The Rhode Island commercial code pulls some strengthening amendments from the 2015 IECC however also weakens provisions of the code. One weakening amendment divides the state into two climate zones; the ICC published code has only one climate zone for Rhode Island. While Rhode Island is a home rule state, towns are not permitted to adopt a code that is different from the state's. In 2013, Rhode Island mandated that all state buildings adhere to the International Green Construction Code. As part of the Rhode Island’s Energy Efficiency Procurement Plan, a Building Codes & Standards Initiative was approved by the RI Public Utilities Commission, and a stated feature is the continued support and maintenance of a “stretch” code targeting “15% more energy efficiency than buildings constructed according to the prevailing path.” This effort was pursued in conjunction with the RI Building Code Commission and the RI Builder’s Association.

Issued in December, 2015, Executive Order 15-17 directs the Office of Energy Resources to coordinate with the Energy Efficiency and Resource Management Council, National Grid, and the Green Building Advisory Committee to establish a voluntary aspirational or stretch building code based on the International Green Construction Code or equivalent by 2017. Rhode Island currently has a voluntary stretch code for both commercial and residential buildings.

Last Updated: September 2020

Compliance List All
  • Gap Analysis/Strategic Compliance Plan: The baseline code compliance studies noted below included a comprehensive survey of all stakeholders in the building and code industry, with an emphasis on code officials. This survey offered a host of recommendations for strategic planning and subsequent improvement in code compliance and better building. These findings were integrated into the strategic planning for the Code Compliance Enhancement Initiative (CCEI) – only one piece of Rhode Island’s long-term plan on the advancement of codes. An online permitting system is being rolled out to streamline the process and increase accessibility of building data.
  • Baseline & Updated Compliance Studies: Various evaluation studies related to building code compliance have been conducted by National Grid. The 2011 residential code compliance baseline study, the 2012 C&I code compliance baseline study, the 2013 CCEI savings and attribution logic evaluation study, the 2016 C&I code compliance study, the 2017 residential baseline study of single-family new construction, the 2017 energy impacts of commercial building code compliance, and the 2017 code compliance enhancement initiative attribution and savings study are the most recent studies.
  • Utility Involvement: Regulatory guidelines have been established enabling significant utility involvement in supporting building energy code compliance. Under the 3-year Energy Efficiency Plan filed with parties including the RI Division of Public Utilities and Carriers and RI Office of Energy Resources, and approved by the Energy Efficiency & Resource Management Council (EERMC), there is a multi-year commitment to the Code Compliance Enhancement Initiative. National Grid works and coordinates with the RI Building Code Commission to provide trainings and support aimed at improving code compliance with the energy code in the RI CCEI. National Grid is also actively involved in strategic planning and coordination with the RI Building Code Commission, OER, and other partners. National Grid is able to claim savings associated with the codes initiative as approved by the RI PUC and there are active discussions between National Grid and RI stakeholders about ways to enhance their involvement in the code development and compliance process for 2020 and beyond.
  • Stakeholder Advisory Group: Since 2011, the RI Building Code Commission, Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP), and National Grid have been working collaboratively on code advocacy, stretch code, and code compliance strategies. This collaborative approach led to the formalization of the Code Compliance Enhancement Initiative and will continue to monitor and oversee the implementation of the Initiative across the State in the coming years. Other active participants include the lead training vendor, the Green Buildings Advisory Committee, and the Energy Efficiency & Resource Management Council.
  • Training/Outreach: National Grid has provided code compliance support since 2013. The CCEI aims to increase the ability and desire of the code enforcement system, design community (architects and engineers) and the construction community (contractors, builders and construction managers) to meet the locally mandated building energy code. National Grid works closely with the Rhode Island Building Code Commission to develop and deliver this initiative and has partnered with a number of stakeholders such as the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships and the Energy Efficiency and Resource Management Council (EERMC). Efforts include classroom trainings, webinars, focus groups and on site demonstrations, as well as the development of an array of compliance documentation tools.

Last Updated: September 2020

CHP Summary List All

The state offers incentives for CHP deployment and includes CHP as an eligible resource within its energy efficiency resource standard. No new CHP systems came online in Rhode Island in 2018.

Interconnection StandardsList All

In 2011, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed General Law 39-26.3 “Distribution Generation Interconnection,” with the stated finding that “expeditious completion of the application process for renewable distributed generation is in the public interest. In November 2011, the RI PUC adopted a tariff titled, “RIPUC #2078, Standards for Connected Distributed Generation,” for which CHP is eligible. The tariff is for renewable interconnecting customers as well as interconnecting customers, and, therefore, covers all forms of fuel. Additionally, the tariff applies to systems greater than 10 MW. 

Under tariff #2078, National Grid offers a three-tiered (Simplified, Standard, and Expedited) interconnection processes for distributed generation, including CHP. A project's review path is determined by project characteristics including generation type, size, customer load, and the characteristics of the grid where the system is to be located. Maximum total review days depend on review type, ranging from 15 days for a Simplified Review to 120-150 for a Standard review (usually complex projects). These standards were cited as supportive policies in the 2015 Energy Efficiency Program Plan which was approved by the Rhode Island PUC. 

Last Updated: August 2019

Encouraging CHP as a ResourceList All

CHP in energy efficiency standards: Rhode Island established an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard in 2006 requiring regulated utilities to submit three-year energy efficiency resource plans, which explicitly include CHP as an eligible resource. Legislation passed in June 2012 (H.B. 8233) requires utilities to support the installation of efficient CHP systems; each utility must specify in its annual efficiency program and how it will do so.

CHP programs: In 2012, Rhode Island's Least Cost Procurement statute was amended to include a new CHP provision to encourage the consideration of its additional benefits. See R.I.G.L. § 39-1-27.7(c)(6)(ii) through (iv). Today, National Grid Electric implements a CHP Program that is designed to acquire cost-effective CHP energy resources (like other efficiency resources). All of Rhode Island is served by National Grid and the utility provides eligible CHP projects with a combination of energy efficiency, performance rebates, and advanced gas technology incentives. The total incentive package cannot exceed 70% of total project cost and is subject to budgetary limitations and caps.

Production goal: For 2018, National Grid is proposing a target of 1 MW of installed capacity that is expected to correspond to approximately 8,000 MWh of savings. Additionally, for 2018, National Grid has set a goal of three installations in Rhode Island and a commitment to initiate at least two additional projects in future years.

Revenue Streams: CHP systems have access to production incentives through National Grid's CHP Program. For any project greater than 1 new MW, a performance-based energy efficiency incentive, capped at $20/kW-year ($1.66/kW-month) for a period of up to ten years, is available.

Last Updated: August 2019

Deployment IncentivesList All

Incentives, grants, or financing:  National Grid’s CHP Program provides capacity incentives ranging from $900/kW to $1250/kW, depending on two factors: (1) the efficiency of the CHP system design, and (2) the host customer’s commitment to implement other energy efficiency measures that reduce onsite energy consumption. The combined incentives awarded to a single project cannot exceed 70% of the project costs. For more information, see National Grid’s Guide to Submitting CHP Applications for Incentives in Rhode Island (Version May 2016).

CHP is also an eligible measure for nonwires alternatives. The Least-Cost Procurement Standards state that approaches for nonwires solutions may include strategic promotion of CHP, subject to screening criteria.

Net metering: Applicable only to renewable energy systems, Rhode Island’s net metering rules are capped at fairly small system capacity limits.

Last Updated: August 2019

Additional Supportive PoliciesList All

Some additional supportive policies encourage CHP in Rhode Island. The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has a policy intended to streamline air permitting for certain CHP systems. Air Pollution Control Regulation No. 43 creates an alternative permitting process (general permit) for certain emergency generators, CHP and other distributed generation projects. The general permit offers an administratively simpler process than the current minor source permitting process in APC Regulation No. 9. The application form is available here. The state has also codified the use of nonwires alternatives for promoting the state's policy goals of enhancing grid reliability and resilience. CHP is defined as an eligible measure for nonwires alternatives. 

Technical assistance is also available, as outlined in its annual Energy Efficiency Program Plan. National Grid offers assistance by identifying and recruiting qualified CHP projects, conducting initial scoping studies, and providing up to 50% of the cost of independent engineering studies.

Additionally, National Grid has defined criteria and incentives for 'opportunity fuel' CHP systems, specifically waste-to-gas, in the 2018 Energy Efficiency Annual Plan. 

Last Updated: August 2019

Score: 19.5 out of 20
Utilities Summary List All

Rhode Island has consistently achieved high levels of energy savings through its energy efficiency programs and has some of the most aggressive energy savings targets in the country. One investor-owned utility, Narragansett Electric (a National Grid Company), administers and operates a portfolio of energy efficiency programs for its customers, which account for 99% of statewide sales of electricity. A public utility, Pascoag Utility District, also operates programs. The Rhode Island legislature unanimously passed sweeping legislation in 2006, which, among other things, established the state's energy efficiency resource standard (EERS). The Comprehensive Energy Conservation, Efficiency and Affordability Act of 2006 requires utilities to acquire all cost-effective energy efficiency. The act also establishes requirements for strategic long-term planning and purchasing of least-cost supply and demand resources and three-year energy saving targets. Enacted in 2010, House Bill 8082 authorizes revenue decoupling for electric and natural gas utilities and requires utilities to submit proposals to implement these policies.

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Customer Energy Efficiency Programs List All

Energy efficiency programs are offered by Rhode Island's regulated distribution utilities. The major investor-owned utility operating in the state, Narragansett Electric, is a National Grid Company and offers a comprehensive slate of programs that parallel National Grid's offerings in Massachusetts. Hearings are held once a year before the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission to review program plans. A collaborative of stakeholders reviews these plans and makes recommendations to the RI PUC on the programs. Program costs are trued up annually each May.

The Comprehensive Energy Conservation, Efficiency and Affordability Act of 2006 greatly increased the role and requirements for acquisition of demand-side resources, requiring utilities to acquire all cost-effective energy efficiency. The act also created a statewide natural gas conservation program.

Utility programs are funded by a "conservation and load adjustment factor"—a rider assessed on all customer rates established as part of Rhode Island's restructuring legislation. There is a minimum floor on this surcharge of 2 mills per kilowatt-hour for energy efficiency paid by customers of regulated distribution utilities as a non-bypassable public benefits fee specifically for energy efficiency programs. The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission annually reviews and authorizes utility demand-side management program plans, including budget amounts. The fee to support energy efficiency is a floor; actual spending amounts have exceeded this minimum requirement.

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Last reviewed: July 2019

Energy Efficiency as a Resource List All

Rhode Island has a legislative requirement enacted in 2007 for electric and gas utilities to acquire all cost-effective energy efficiency that costs less than new energy supply as the first priority resource, placing it first in a utility’s resource “loading order” and greatly increasing the role of energy efficiency in long-term planning. The Comprehensive Energy Conservation, Efficiency and Affordability Act of 2006 also establishes new requirements for strategic long-term planning and purchasing of least-cost supply and demand resources. Utilities in Rhode Island file plans that include specific energy savings goals. These plans are reviewed by the Public Utilities Commission.

Last reviewed: July 2019

Energy Efficiency Resource Standards List All

Summary: Electric: 1.7% in 2012 ramping up to 2.6% by 2017. Current 2018-2020 targets average 2.5% of retail sales. Natural Gas: ~0.4% of sales in 2011 ramping up to 1.1% in 2017. Current 2018-2020 targets average 0.97% of retail sales.

The Rhode Island legislature unanimously passed the Comprehensive Energy Conservation, Efficiency and Affordability Act of 2006 in June 2006. This act establishes a Least Cost Procurement mandate, requiring utilities to acquire all cost-effective energy efficiency with input and review from the Energy Efficiency and Resource Management Council (EERMC). Under the Least Cost Procurement mandate, National Grid is required to participate in strategic long-term planning and invest in all energy efficiency that is cost-effective and cheaper than supply on behalf of its customers.

The act also established requirements for strategic long-term planning and purchasing of least-cost supply and demand resources. Utilities must submit 3-year and annual energy efficiency procurement plans, which offer program details, as well as spending and savings goals. Hearings are held once a year before the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission to review program plans. Yearly incremental savings goals for electricity during the 2012-2014 period began at 1.7%, increasing to 2.5% in 2014 (Docket 4284, 4295). Targets for 2015-2017 ranged from 2.5% to 2.6%; 2.5% for 2018-2021 (Docket 4443).

Rhode Island’s EERS policy also includes natural gas targets. Savings goals for the 2012-2014 period ranged from 0.6% in 2012 to 1.0% in 2014 (Docket 4284, 4295). Targets for 2015-2017 ranged from 1% to 1.1%; ~0.97% for 2018-2020 (Docket 4443).

Last reviewed: July 2019

Utility Business Model List All

Enacted in 2010, House Bill 8082 requires revenue decoupling for electric and natural gas utilities and requires utilities to submit proposals to implement these policies. In 2011, National Grid proposed a revenue decoupling mechanism that was approved by the Public Utilities Commission (Docket No. 4206). 

Rhode Island has had a shareholder incentive for electric and gas since 2005 and 2007, respectively. The Narragansett Electric Company, d/b/a National Grid or NG, can earn incentives for both electric (kWh) and gas (MMBtu) savings. There is a target base incentive rate of 5% for both electric and gas in 2010 applied to the eligible spending budget for 2010. The threshold performance level for energy savings by sector is set at 75% of the annual energy and demand savings goal for the sector (Docket 4366). Further, in 2015, the Commission approved 30% of the target electric program incentive to be based on demand savings, while the remaining 70% will be based on energy savings (Docket 4527).

Last reviewed: July 2019

Evaluation, Measurement, & Verification List All
  • Primary cost-effectiveness test(s) used: State-specific test 

  • Secondary cost-effectiveness test(s) used: none 

Evaluations are mainly administered by the utilities. Rhode Island has formal requirements for evaluation. Statewide evaluations are conducted. Deemed savings are used by the utility in evaluating cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency programs. Evaluation of ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs relies on regulatory orders and the Least Cost Procurement Standards. National Grid also provides a Technical Reference Manual and has offered the PUC access to an online Technical Reference Library, both of which show savings and costs on a measure level. 

According to the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), Rhode Island relies on its own state-specific test as its primary cost-effectiveness test, which was developed using principles consistent with the National Standard Practice Manual. It is applied primarily at the portfolio level, but Rhode Island also uses it at the program and measure level.  Rhode Island’s test accounts for avoided costs of compliance with emissions regulations, participant health benefits and environmental benefits from reduced emissions. Rhode Island’s test accounts for non-energy costs and benefits associated with economic well-being, comfort, health and safety, other fuels, water savings, the social cost of carbon not embedded in energy market prices, economic development, and energy security from reduced use of fuel oil. 

Further information on cost-effectiveness screening practices for Rhode Island is available in the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), a resource of the National Efficiency Screening Project (NESP). Further information on health and environmental benefits is available in ACEEE’s Overview of State Approaches to Account for Health and Environmental Benefits of Energy Efficiency

Last Updated: January 2019

Guidelines for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs List All

Requirements for State and Utility Support of Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

The Comprehensive Energy Conservation, Efficiency and Affordability Act of 2006 requires utilities to acquire all cost-effective energy efficiency and establishes requirements for strategic long-term planning and purchasing of least-cost supply and demand resources, as well as three-year energy saving targets. In Docket No. 4580, National Grid’s Energy Efficiency Program Plan for 2016, funding for residential income eligible programs is set at 13.2% of total implementation funding for the electric programs and 20% for natural gas customers. These levels were adjusted to 13% and 21%, respectively, for 2017 in Docket No. 4654.

Cost-Effectiveness Rules for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

Docket No. 4443 outlines incremental electricity savings goals for 2015-2017 and notes that the Energy Efficiency Resource Management Council recommended including resource impacts and non-energy benefits in the TRC test analysis, but only to specific programs or technologies such as income-eligible programs or combined heat and power. Although Rhode Island General Laws require the consideration of non-energy benefits (NEBs) in the development of combined heat and power, there does not appear to be a similar provision in the General Laws for income-eligible programs. In the absence of non-energy impact evaluations of Rhode Island programs, the state has relied on Massachusetts’ benefit valuation work, as they have similar program types.

Coordination of Ratepayer-Funded Low-Income Programs with WAP Services

The Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Community Services is responsible for administration of the state’s WAP and LIHEAP programs. CLEAResult, which since 2013 has operated as the lead vendor for National Grid’s Income Eligible Services (IES) program, works collaboratively with DHS to deliver weatherization services to eligible Rhode Islanders. Although DOE funds and utility funds are not directly blended on DOE weatherization jobs, the relationship is beneficial to both parties by enabling sharing of energy efficiency knowledge and program expertise.

As an example, CLEAResult and DHS have formed a Weatherization Technical Committee (WTC), which meets on alternating months and is comprised of a technical representative from each CAP agency (i.e. an experienced energy auditor), the CLEAResult QA Manager, and the three state monitors to discuss best practices and develop policy on weatherization matters of a technical nature. DHS and CLEAResult have also worked collaboratively on the development of a RI WAP/IES Operations Manual, which will incorporate all applicable elements of WPN 15-4.

Last updated: July 2018

Self Direct and Opt-Out Programs List All

There are no self-direct or opt-out programs in Rhode Island. 

Data AccessList All

Rhode Island has no policy in place that requires utilities to release energy use data to customers or third parties.

Last Updated: July 2018

Score: 8 out of 12
Transportation Summary List All

The state integrates transportation and land use planning, and devotes significant funding to transportation initiatives. Rhode Island has set tailpipe emissions standards and passed complete streets legislation.

Tailpipe Emission Standards List All

Rhode Island adopted California’s Low-Emission Vehicle Program in 2005, committing to a 30% reduction in average new vehicle greenhouse gas emissions from 2002 levels by 2016. The state has also adopted California's Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program, which requires increasing production of plug-in hybrid, battery electric, and fuel-cell vehicles from 2018 to 2025. 

Last Reviewed: June 2020

Transportation System Efficiency List All

Transportation and Land Use integration: In 1988, Rhode Island passed the Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Regulation Act, making comprehensive planning mandatory for municipalities. In 2000, an Impact Fee Act was passed to ensure that new growth did not financially burden existing tax payers and that adequate facilities were built to support new or rapidly growing development. The state also revised its State Land Use Plan in 2006, incorporating a number of recommendations and policies to discourage urban sprawl. Chapter 31-18-21 of state code directs the department of transportation to provide for the accommodation of bicycle and pedestrian traffic in the planning, design, construction and reconstruction of state highways and roads.

The State's Land Use 2025 Plan provides guidance for the integration of transportation into land use planning across the State, with recommendations for creating accessible public transportation hubs and ensuring maintenance of exisiting transit corridors and infrastructure. This emphasis on smart transportation growth, maintenance and repair of exisiting infrastructure, and focus on accessibility and equity is also included in the State's Transportation Improvement Plan.

VMT Targest: Rhode Island recognizes the need for reducing the number of VMT to curb emissions from the transportation sector and has included actions to accomplish this in its land use and transportation plans. In the Transportation Improvement Plan the Transportation Alternatives Program allocates funding to a number of initiatives that can help curb VMT, like pedestrian and bicycle lane creation, increasing access to public transit, and boosting non-vehicle mobility across the State.

The Land Use 2025 Report recommends an emphasis on higher density development that is supported by efficient and accessible public transportation as a means of reducing usage on existing transportation infrastrucure and by extension, reducing VMT. Additionally, Rhode Island is participating in the regional Transportation Climate Initiative, which through its implementation will set up a cap and invest program for transportation emissions that will allow Rhode Island to reduce VMT and invest program proceeeds into accessible, low-carbon transportation options.

Complete Streets: Chapter 16 and Chapter 31-18 of Title 24 outline the state's complete streets policy.

FAST Freight Plans and Goals: Rhode Island has a state freight plan that identifies a multimodal freight network, but it does not include freight energy or greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Last Reviewed: June 2020

Transit Funding List All

The State Transportation Improvement Plan outlines the funding for RI transit projects, including public transportation opportunities (Source). In this budget, both federal and state dollars are allocated to RI public transit agency, RIPTA, and their funding in total for FY 2019 is $169.71 million, which supports the operation, maintenance, expansion, and development of public transportation across RI.

Last Reviewed: June 2020

Incentives for High-Efficiency Vehicles List All

The ChargeUp! program offers incentives up to $15,000 for EV purchase or lease for models manufactured on or after July 1, 2016, though this program is currently fully subscribed and not currently taking new applications. National Grid is also offering up to a $5,000 rebate on the purchase of the Nissan Leaf to any of it's customers, which is almost the entirety of the State ( 

Last Reviewed: June 2020

Equitable Access to TransportationList All

Rhode Island does not have any state programs in place to incentivize the creation of low-income housing near transit facilities, but it does consider the proximity of transit facilities when distributing federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to qualifying property owners.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Appliance Standards
Score: 0 out of 3
Appliance Standards Summary List All

Policy: R.I. Gen. Laws § 39-27-1, et seq., Energy and Consumer Savings Act of 2005

Description: In 2005 the Energy and Consumer Savings Act established minimum energy efficiency standards for twelve commercial and residential products, nine of which were immediately preempted by the federal Energy Policy Act later that year, the last three preempted by federal standards effective January 1, 2010. In 2006, amendments were made to the 2005 legislation to create standards for an additional eight products, of which all but two have been preempted by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007: bottle-type water dispensers and commercial hot-food holding cabinets. The Office of Energy Resources is the state agency responsible for the adoption and certification of efficiency standards in Rhode Island.     

In 2017, the State Energy Office testified in support of a proposed bill to expand appliance standards in the State in 2017:

Last Reviewed: June 2019