Rhode Island Solar Rebates And Incentives

Rebates list

Rhode Island Rebates and Incentives Summary

Rhode Island

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.

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Agricultural Energy Program

NOTE: 2017 Grant Deadlines: April 21, 2017 and October 16, 2017

The Agricultural Energy program provides grants to agricultural businesses in the state to improve their energy efficiency and promote adoption of renewable energy technologies. 

Eligibility

Only agricultural businesses are eligible to apply for the program. The agricultural operations may include horticulture, viticulture, floriculture, forestry, stabling or horses, dairy farming, aquaculture, raising of livestock, poultry, bees, or all such operations. The business must have produced at least $2,500 in annual income from farming operations. 

The program funds both energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Energy efficiency projects may include technologies to

Building Energy Code

NOTE: Much of the information presented in this summary is drawn from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Building Energy Codes Program and the Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP). For more detailed information about building energy codes, visit the DOE and BCAP websites.

The Rhode Island Building Code Standards Committee adopts, promulgates and administers the state building code. Compliance is determined through the building permit and inspection process by local building code officials and the State Building Commission. The local code official enforces the state building code. The State Building Commissioner enforces the code for all state buildings and buildings

Commercial Scale Renewable Energy Grants (Commerce RI)

The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation (Commerce RI) seeks to fund commercial scale renewable energy projects  generating electricity for onsite- consumption. Commerce RI provides incentives for renewable-energy projects. Incentive programs are funded by the Rhode Island Renewable Energy Fund (REF) and alternative compliance payments (ACPs) from the state’s renewable portfolios standard (RPS). 

Eligibility

Any legal business entity, municipality, non-profit, and affordable housing are eligible for funding. All projects must be located on Rhode Island and must be used for on-site consumption. Grants are available for electricity-generating renewable-energy systems greater than 10 kilowatts (kW). Eligible technologies include solar, wind, ocean, small hydro, biomass,

Energy Revolving Loan Fund

The Rhode Island Economic Development Cooperation (RIEDC) administers Energy Revolving Loan Fund (ELF) which provides low interest loans for RI business for energy saving investments. This loan program is funded by reprogrammed stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Funds can be used to install renewable energy projects, energy efficiency, or purchase energy saving equipment. Terms of loan vary between 5-10 years with interest rates between 1%-3% depending on the project.

Businesses applying for financing are required to provide:

  • Earnings which can support the debt requested or projected growth which can generate a clear path to earnings

Green Building Standards for State Facilities

In November 2009, Rhode Island enacted the Green Building Act (S.B. 232) requiring that public building construction projects 5,000 square feet or larger and public building renovation projects 10,000 square feet or larger achieve the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification or an equivalent certification, such as High Performance Schools Standards, Green Globes Certification, or the International Green Construction Code.* This requirement applies to all public buildings, including school district construction and renovations that receive state funding for such projects, that had not entered the design phase prior to January 1, 2010. The rule applies to all renovation projects that

Interconnection Guidelines

NOTE: SB 637 enacted in July 2017 prohibits distribution companies from charging interconnection charges for system modifications that is not directly related to the interconnection, except accelerated modifications for which the developer is repaid when the modification would have otherwise been made. Any upgrade paid by the developer for interconnection will be paid on a prorated basis by any future interconnection that relies on the particular upgrade for the period of 10 years. 

Rhode Island enacted legislation (HB 6222) in June 2011 to standardize the application process for the interconnection of customer-sited renewable-energy systems to the state’s distribution grid.  The

Local Option - Property Tax Exemption for Renewable Energy Systems

NOTE: H.B. 8354 enacted on July 2016 included provision that exempted qualifying renewable energy equipment used in residential and manufacturing sector to be exempt from property taxes throughout the state, thereby superseding the local option provision. Renewable energy equipment used in commercial facilities are not included in the exemption.

Rhode Island allows cities and towns to exempt, by ordinance, renewable energy systems from property taxation. The term "renewable energy system" is not defined in the applicable statute (R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-3-21), but R.I. Gen Law § 39-26-5 defines renewable energy resources to include, direct solar radiation, wind, movement and

Local Option - Property-Assessed Clean Energy Financing

NOTE: In 2010, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which has authority over mortgage underwriters Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, directed these enterprises against purchasing mortgages of homes with a PACE lien due to its senior status above a mortgage. Most residential PACE activity subsided following this directive; however, some residential PACE programs are now operating with loan loss reserve funds, appropriate disclosures, or other protections meant to address FHFA's concerns. Commercial PACE programs were not directly affected by FHFA’s actions, as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not underwrite commercial mortgages. Visit PACENow for more information about PACE financing

National Grid (Electric) - Residential Energy Efficiency Incentive Program

National Grid offers a variety of energy efficiency incentives for residential customers. Incentives are provided for purchasing and implementing insulation upgrades, HVAC equipment, appliances, pool pumps, lighting fixtures and other measures. Certain measures are offered as a comprehensive package. Some rebates are given at the time of purchase while others require a mail-in application. The program web site above lists the specific requirements for the different rebates available.   Additionally, new construction programs are available to customers who build energy efficient homes according to National Grid standards. Customers can call 1-888-633-7947 for more information or visit the program web site.

National Grid (Gas) - Residential Gas Heating Rebate Programs

National Grid offers financial incentives for various energy efficiency measures in Rhode Island homes. Incentives are available for heaters, furnaces, boilers, and others. The program also offers an energy audit of the house at no cost to the participant. Only customers of National Grid residential gas heating account are eligible for the program. Rebates can be applied online or through mail and must be send within 60 days of equipment installation date. 

National Grid EnergyWise Financing program

National Grid offers 0% financing to its customers to install energy efficient heating equipment in Rhode Island homes. Only residential customers of National Grid (electric or gas) with 1-4 unit property are eligible for the program. Financing is not offered to tenants. 

Interested participants must first schedule for home energy audit through the EnergyWise Home Energy Assessment Program by calling 888-633-7947. The energy audit will provide a list of energy efficiency measures including other rebates offered by National Grid. Customers must contact qualified contractors and submit a proposal to the Program Administrator for review and approval. After approved, the customer

Net Metering

NOTE: In January 2018, National Grid filed approval of its revised net metering tariff to include the changed adopted by RI legislation to expand community solar (remote net metering) to include educational institutions, hospitals, and non-profit corporations. It also removes the 30 MW cap on maximum aggregage amount of remote net metering for public entity facilities, multi-municipal collaboratives, educational institutions, federal government, hospitals or nonprofits.  

Rhode Island allows net metering for systems up to ten megawatts (MW) in capacity that are designed to generate up to 100% of the electricity that a home or other facility uses. The net metered

Property Tax Exemption for Renewable Energy Equipment

H.B. 8354, enacted on July 2016, included a provision exempting qualifying renewable energy systems and associated equipment used in residential and manufacturing sector from property taxes throughout the state. Eligible renewable energy resources include direct solar radiation, wind, ocean, geothermal, small hydro, eligible biomass fuels, and fuel cells using renewable resources. 

Renewable energy equipment used in commercial facilities is not included in the exemption. However, legislation amended R.I. Gen Law §44-3-9 adding renewable energy equipment to qualify for tax stabilization, which may apply to commercial facilities. This authorizes local governments in Rhode Island to provide tax stabilization agreements for renewable

Public Benefit Fund for Renewables and Efficiency

NOTE: H.B. 8354 enacted on June 2016 extended the customer benefit charge of 0.3 mills/kWh until end of 2022. This charge was set to expire at the end of 2017. 

Electric

Rhode Island law allows its electric distribution companies to collect two sets of public benefits charge to fund renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. 

Renewable energy programs are funded by a charge of 0.3 mills (0.03 cents) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of sales of electricity. This benefit charge was established in July 2007 and will remain in effect till December 31, 2022. Renewable energy fund is administered by the Rhode

Renewable Energy Growth Program

NOTE: S.B. 112A enacted in June 2017 extended the program to the end of 2029, and increased the annual target to 40 MW per year with a total cumulative procurement of 400 MW of renewable energy between 2020 and 2029. 

In 2014, Act H 7727 created the Renewable Energy Growth (REG) program with the goal to promote installation of grid connected renewable energy within the load zones of electric distribution companies (EDCs) at a reasonable cost. This tariff-based  incentive program is designed to finance the development, construction, and operation of renewable energy distributed generation projects through competitive bidding processes over

Renewable Energy Products Sales and Use Tax Exemption

Certain renewable energy systems and equipment sold in Rhode Island are exempt from the state's sales and use tax. Eligible products include solar electric systems, DC-to-AC inverters that interconnect with utility power lines, solar thermal systems, manufactured mounting racks and ballast pans for solar collectors, geothermal heat pumps, and wind turbines and towers.

Renewable Energy Professional Certification

H.B 8200 enacted in June, 2014 requires all ancillary non-electrical renewable energy work such as advertising, distribution and installation be performed by a person, firm or corporation holding a Renewable Energy Professional (REP) Certificate . All the renewable energy electrical work, including installation, connecting, testing, mounting of modules and inverters are to be performed by a licensed electrician.  Except for electrical work, the contractors require REP certification for installation, mechanical fastening and conjoining of listed solar sheathing system that are 10 kW or less. REP certification is also required for to any person, firm or corporation who is engaged in

Renewable Energy Standard

NOTE: H.B. 7413 enacted on June 2016 extends the state Renewable Energy Standard (RES) to 2035, which was previously set to expire at the end of 2019. The RES is set to increase by 1.5% annually, thereby requiring 38.5% of the total retail electricity be obtained from eligible renewable resources by 2035. 

Rhode Island's Renewable Energy Standard (RES), established in June 2004, requires the state's retail electricity providers -- including non-regulated power producers and distribution companies -- to supply 38.5% of their retail electricity sales from renewable resources by 2035. The requirement began at 3% by the end of 2007, and

Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit (Corporate)

NOTE:  The Renewable Energy Tax Credit is not allowable against Personal Income taxes since 2010, however the Corporate portion of the tax credit is still active. While the Corporate tax credit is still included in the statutes, there is no functional way to leverage the tax credit. 

Rhode Island offers a tax credit for photovoltaic systems (on-grid and off-grid), solar hot-water systems, active solar-heating systems, wind-energy systems and geothermal-energy systems installed on residences. The tax credit is equal to 25% of the system cost and applies only to residential installations. The tax credit is currently only available as deductible from Business Corporation

Residential Solar Energy Property Tax Reduction

NOTE: H.B. 8354 enacted on July 2016 included provision that exempted qualifying renewable energy equipment used in residential and manufacturing sector to be exempt from property taxes throughout the state, thereby superseding the reduction in solar energy property tax assessment provision. Renewable energy equipment used in commercial facilities are not included in the exemption.

Rhode Island law provides that for purposes of local municipal property tax assessment, certain residential solar-energy systems may not be assessed at more than the value of a conventional heating system, a conventional water-heating system, or energy production capacity that otherwise could be necessary to install

Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation - Renewable Energy Fund

The Renewable Energy Fund (REF) provides grants and loan opportunities for eligible renewable energy technologies for preliminary feasibility studies as well as direct residential, commercial, and municipal installations. Funding is also offered for new renewable energy business ventures and innovative development. The fund is supported by a surcharge on electric customers' bills. The REF program is currently administered by the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation with the Office of Energy Resources providing assistance in development of the rules and regulations and evaluation of submitted REF applications. The new REF rules and regulations were approved by the Economic Development Corporation Board in

Rhode Island Renewable Energy Fund (RIREF)

Rhode Island's Public Utilities Restructuring Act of 1996 created the nation's first public benefits fund (PBF) for renewable energy and demand-side management (DSM). The Rhode Island Renewable Energy Fund's (RIREF) renewable-energy component is administered by the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation (Commerce RI) formely known as the Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC), and the fund's demand-side management (DSM) programs are administered by the state's electric and gas distribution companies, subject to review by the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

Rhode Island's PBF is supported by a surcharge on electric and gas customers' bills. Initially, the surcharge was was set at $0.0023

Small Scale Solar Grants (Commerce RI)

Commerce Rhode Island provides financial grants for small scale solar photovoltaic systems and domestic solar water heating systems to help reduce energy costs and increase renewable energy adoption. The program is funded by the Rhode Island Renewable Energy Fund (REF) and alternative compliance payments (ACPs) from the state’s renewable portfolios standard (RPS). The application for grants are solicited on a "Block" basis  with specific application deadlines. 

Eligibility

All residential, business, affordable housing, non-profits, state facilities, and municipalities located in Rhode Island are eligible to apply for the grant. Systems that are directly owned (DO) and systems that are owned by Third Party

Solar Easements

Rhode Island allows property owners to establish solar easements in the same manner and with the same effect as a conveyance of an interest in real property. Solar easements must be created in writing. In general, they must include: (1) a description of the real property involved, (2) a description of the angles and three-dimensional space involved; (3) the terms under which the easement is granted or may be terminated, and (4) any provisions for compensation of either property owner.

In addition, the state’s local zoning ordinances must address access to air and light, views, and solar access.