The biggest little state in the Union, aka Rhode Island, might be the nation’s smallest state, but its got a big heart for renewables. The state gets just under 4.5 kilowatt hours (kWhs) per square meter on a daily basis, which makes it a decent location for solar power.
Rhode Island was one of the first states in the country to adopt a renewable energy portfolio standard. It requires utilities to get 16 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. To help its residents adopt solar and other renewables, the state offers various financial incentives, like tax breaks and a feed-in-tariff.
Rhode Island’s renewable resources are not limited to solar power. The state has rich offshore wind potential. Its native Deepwater Wind has a 30-megawatt demonstration project at Block Island.
Rhode Island has the nation’s lowest overall electric use on a per capita basis, according to the DOE’s Energy Information administration. That’s thanks in part to mild summers, with little need for air conditioning and because most homes don’t use electricity to heat their homes in the winter. The state's average electric rate is 14.83 cents per kilowatt hour, which is well above the national average of 11.43 cents.
The low energy use and high electricity costs should make it easier for people to install solar and other renewables. The state also offers a feed-n-tariff for larger solar installations.
|Program Type||Personal Tax Credit|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Solar Hot Water Heating and Solar Space Heat|
|Amount||Covers 25 percent of system costs up to set ceilings. $15,000 maximum system cost for PV|
|Required Documentation||See below|
|Official Web Site||https://energy.gov/savings/residential-renewable-energy-tax-credit-corporate|
Home and business owners in Rhode Island installing a solar or renewable energy system may qualify for a tax credit of 25 percent on up to $15,000 of the system’s costs. Systems that cost more will receive the maximum credit of $3,750. The credit may be claimed either by the homeowner or the business that paid for the system.
The credit covers three solar technologies, PV, active solar heating and solar hot water. PV and active solar heating are eligible for the credit on up to $15,000. Solar hot water systems are eligible for tax credits of 25 percent of the system’s cost up to $7,000. Systems that are more expensive can qualify for the maximum credit of $1,750.
Under the state’s program, a PV system must be at least 24 square feet in size to be eligible for the credit. The credit applies to both on-grid and off-grid systems, but off-grid systems must be tied to a battery backup. Active solar-heating systems must have a minimum collector area of 125 square feet to be eligible for the credit, and the system must include heat storage and/or a distribution mechanism. Solar hot water heaters must include an 80 gallon or more storage tank and have a minimum collector area of 34 square feet.
Before applying for the tax credit, the system must be approved by the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources. The approval must be attached to the income tax filing. The approval process requires documentation of the system, its costs and all permits.
|Program Type||Tax Exemption|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Solar Hot Water Heating and Solar Space Heat|
|Amount||100 percent exemption from sales tax|
|Official Web Site||http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE44/44-18/44-18-30.HTM|
Rhode Island offers a variety of tax exemptions including sales and property tax exemptions. The sales tax exemption is statewide while the property tax exemptions are determined by local municipalities.
Under the sales tax exemption solar electric systems, inverters for the systems, solar thermal systems as well as the mounting and ballast equipment for such installations are exempted from sales tax. The tax extends to other forms of renewable energy, including wind turbines and geothermal heat pumps.
Rhode Island first enacted a property tax exemption for solar energy in 1980. Under that exemption, cities or towns may opt to exempt taxation any renewable energy system located in the city or town. The language regarding the statute is vague and only comprises two sentences. To determine whether a home or property is exempted from property tax related to an installation, system owners should check with the municipality where the system is located.
The law also prohibits residential PV systems, solar hot-water systems and active solar space-heating systems from being assessed more than the value of conventional heating, hot water and energy systems for the purpose of property taxation. To qualify for the exemption, the equipment must be new.
|Program Type||Net Metering|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Solar Thermal and Wind Energy|
|Amount||Credited to customer's next bill at the retail rate up to 100 percent of annual electricity consumption.|
|Required Documentation||Interconnection agreement with utility|
|Official Web Site||http://www.ripuc.state.ri.us/eventsactions/docket/4079page.html|
Rhode Island customers can net meter systems up to 5 megawatts in size. The law applies only to investor-owned utilities. Utilities are only able to net meter up to 3 percent of their peak capacity. Of that, 2 megawatts are reserved for systems of 50 kilowatts or smaller.
The state also offers a feed-in-tariff for systems larger than 10 kilowatts. The tariff for systems between 10 and 150 kilowatts pays 33.35 cents per kilowatt hour. That is a separate law from net metering.
Net-metered customers that generate more electricity than they need, up to 125 percent, will receive credit for the net excess generation (NEG) at the avoided-cost rate forward and apply it to future months at a rate slightly less than their retail rate. The utility can carry the excess over on the customer's bill or purchase it from the customer at the utility's discretion.
Financial Incentives ________________________________________________________________________________
Corporate Tax Credit
Property Tax Incentive
Sales Tax Incentive
State Grant Program
State Loan Program
Utility Rebate Program
Rules, Regulations & Policies
Appliance/Equipment Efficiency Standards
Building Energy Code
Energy Efficiency Resource Standard
Energy Standards for Public Buildings
Public Benefits Fund
Renewables Portfolio Standard
Solar/Wind Access Policy
Related Programs & Initiatives
The U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) provides a wide range of information and resources to enable the use of alternative fuels and other petroleum-reduction options, such as advanced vehicles, fuel blends, idle reduction and fuel economy. The AFDC site offers a database of state and federal laws and incentives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, air quality, fuel efficiency, and other transportation-related topics.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Green Power Network provides news and information on green power markets and activities, including opportunities to buy green power. This site provides state-by-state information on green power marketing and utility green power programs. In addition, the site lists marketers of renewable energy credits (RECs), also known as green tags or renewable energy certificates, which represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from renewable energy projects.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy-efficient. Through this program, weatherization service providers install energy-efficiency measures in the homes of qualifying homeowners free of charge. The WAP program web site offers a state-by-state map of opportunities, projects and activities.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America site provides state-by-state information on wind projects and activities, including wind working groups, validated wind maps, anemometer loan programs, small wind guides, state-specific news, wind for schools, workshops and web casts.