This summer, the RI Office of Energy Resources is planning on launching DRIVE EV, an incentive program to help drivers access electric vehicles (EVs). This program is desperately needed, as Rhode Island has the lowest EV adoption rate in all of New England (and much of the US). Here’s what you need to know.
Rhode Island is headed in the wrong direction when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. A month ago, the state released worrying emissions data that shows the state’s GHG emissions in 2018 were up 15% from 2016, including increases in all sectors, with one of the biggest jumps in emissions coming from our electricity sector. This new data puts into question whether the state will be able to meet its 2020 climate goal, set in the 2014 Resilient RI Act. And it underscores the challenge before Rhode Island in meeting the 2021 Act on Climate mandate of 45% emissions reductions from the 1990 baseline in 2030.
On Friday, Superior Court Judge Brian Stern put a pause on PPL's purchase of Rhode Island's electric and gas utility from National Grid. This pause is temporary and will allow for the judge to hear the Attorney General's case on why the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers misunderstood the laws that govern this transaction. Specifically, the judge said that since the Division failed to take into account either potential ratepayer or climate change impacts of the sale, the Attorney General is likely to succeed in its appeal. Additionally, the judge determined that if he let the sale close prior to the appeal being done, there would be no reasonable way to undo the transaction, so it must be paused until he can finish a full review of the case.
Some politicians in Massachusetts and Rhode Island are calling on their state governments to reduce or eliminate the gas tax in response to rising prices since Russia invaded Ukraine a couple weeks ago. That’s an awful idea and political pandering at its worst.
Last week, Rhode Island legislators Sen. Alana DiMario and Rep. Terri Cortvriend introduced bills setting a target of 100% of new cars registered being electric vehicles by 2030. The legislation (H. 7653 and S. 2448) creates a process to plan for the infrastructure and other changes involving cars, trucks, and public transportation in order to meet the 2030 target, which is critical for the state to meet its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reductions under the Act on Climate. Following Rhode Island’s withdrawal from the Transportation and Climate Initiative, the bill represents a new approach to tackling pollution from transportation, the region’s largest source of emissions.
Update (March 9, 2022): Green Energy Consumers Alliance strongly supports the work of RI Attorney General Peter Neronha and MA Attorney General Maura Healey to make sure this sale is fully vetted before being going through. Last week, Attorney General Neronha appealed the Division's decision, which will bring it to the review of the Superior Court. And the Massachusetts Supreme Court granted Attorney General Healey's motion for a stay on a permit for the sale, which means that the transition to PPL is currently on hold. The RI Superior Court's review begins this month.
Update (February 23, 2022): The Division of Public Utilities and Carriers issued an order today to approve the sale with no additional conditions. Although we think this was the wrong decision for Rhode Islanders, we will work with PPL, regulators, and the General Assembly to ensure that PPL can help the state meet its Act on Climate goals.
One of the biggest questions in Rhode Island’s clean energy future is on the verge of conclusion: will Pennsylvania-based utility PPL succeed in buying National Grid’s Rhode Island electric and gas utilities? If the sale goes through, PPL will become the new utility company for almost all Rhode Islanders.
Transportation is the largest source of climate-warming emissions in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts, so Green Energy Consumers Alliance is focused on finding policy solutions to advance low-carbon alternatives to gasoline. How the states structure their transportation budgets will be a key factor for how they expect to meet 2030 climate mandates.
You may be reading more about climate policy in the news because of COP26, the global conference in Glasgow to address the climate crisis hosted by the United Nations. This work is important for the sake of international cooperation and because climate change is a global issue. However, work on the international scale doesn’t replace the need for strong leadership on the local and state level to enact policies that align with the vision of COP26, as I recently argued in the Boston Globe alongside our allies at The Nature Conservancy.
A bill passed in June 2021 requires the state of Rhode Island to develop a plan to improve statewide access to electric vehicle (EV) charging by January 1, 2022. The state has initiated a stakeholder engagement process to solicit feedback from organizations and individuals about what the plan should look like.
If you’re an EV driver (or if you’d like to drive an EV, but lack of charging infrastructure is holding you back), you’re an expert on this topic. We encourage you to share your experience with the public charging network and what ideas you have to improve charging infrastructure in RI at an upcoming public session.