The Distributed Generation Contracts Board held a meeting last week to discuss 2015 ceiling prices under Rhode Island’s Renewable Energy Growth Program, the new incarnation of the state’s Distributed Generation Growth Program. A consultant’s presentation, titled “Calculation of Initial 2015 Ceiling Price Recommendations,” delivered during the meeting indicates that the range of the draft proposed ceiling prices for solar energy is $0.182/kWh – $0.557/kWh, varying by project size, ownership model, federal tax credit usage, and tariff duration. For wind energy, the range of the draft proposed ceiling prices is $0.17/kWh – $0.2275/kWh, varying by federal tax credit usage and project size. The proposed rates, program rules and tariffs must be approved by the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission. The first round of program funding will be available in spring 2015.
Rhode Island enacted legislation (S.B. 2690) in June 2014 that vastly expanded the state’s Distributed Generation Standard Contracts Program, while renaming it the Renewable Energy Growth Program. S.B. 2690 extended the program for five years; raised the aggregate program capacity from 40 MW to 200 MW; converted the 15-year standard contract approach to a 15- to 20-year tariff (except for smaller solar) involving a competitive process (except for smaller solar) with three annual enrollment windows and ceiling prices for projects up to 5 MW; created four eligible classes of solar projects and a minimum annual carve-out for smaller solar; allowed the imposition energy efficiency requirements at facilities seeking funds for smaller solar; allowed owners (with the exception of residential small-scale solar) to choose between a pure performance-based incentive or net metering plus a reduced performance-based incentive; removed existing aggregate capacity limit for net-metered systems for National Grid customers; and directed the PUC to consider rate design and distribution cost allocation in light of expanded net metering and distributed generation, and the changing distribution system.