Commerce RI and the Rhode Island Division of Planning have issued a draft of the state’s Economic Development Plan and invited public comments on the draft. The 186-page draft plan describes six primary goals, as well as policies, strategies, implementation actions and performance measures for the state’s economic development program over the next 20 years. One of the six goals — “Create a stronger and more resilient Rhode Island” — includes a proposal to create an “Infrastructure Bank” and to provide continued state support for wind and solar energy. It specifically calls for promoting energy efficiency and “the siting and regulation of wind turbines,” and “removing regulatory barriers for solar power and climate change resiliency.”
The draft plan also includes a discussion of the need to “adopt an energy policy that keeps Rhode Island competitive,” which would involve, among other things, expanding existing energy programs to add new financing and investment tools (including commercial PACE programs), expanding the state’s Distributed Generation Standard Contracts program (which was actually expanded via legislation enacted in June 2014), continuing the existing Least Cost Procurement mandate and its associated provisions for renewables beyond 2018, and working with local communities to gain support for the expansion of in-state renewables.