Rhode Island has enacted legislation (S.B. 2690) that significantly expands the state’s Distributed Generation Standard Contracts Program, which was scheduled to expire December 30, 2014. The program has been renamed the Renewable Energy Growth Program. The new law: (1) overhauls, expands, and extends the program for five years; (2) raises the aggregate program capacity from 40 MW to 200 MW; (3) converts the current 15-year standard contract approach to a 15- to 20-year tariff involving a competitive process with three annual enrollment windows and ceiling prices for projects up to 5 MW, with different provisions for smaller solar projects; (4) creates four eligible classes of solar projects and a minimum annual carve-out for smaller solar; (5) potentially requires energy-efficiency requirements at facilities seeking funds for smaller solar; (6) allows owners to choose between a pure performance-based incentive or net metering plus a reduced incentive; (7) removes the existing aggregate capacity limit for net metering systems for customers of National Grid; and (8) directs the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission to consider rate design and distribution cost allocation in light of expanded net metering and DG, and the changing distribution system.
The state’s Distributed Generation Board (formerly the Distributed Generation Standard Contract Board) has already met to discuss implementation of the expanded program, including a timeline for 2015 program implementation, the application processes for residential and non-residential systems, and the development of a tariff.