Building Capacity through Partnership

Challenge:

In 2006, Rhode Island passed Least Cost Procurement (LCP) legislation that challenged the State to acquire electric and gas efficiency at costs lower than new supply. The Rhode Island Energy Efficiency & Resource Management Council (RI-EERMC) was created to help build capacity in Rhode Island, endeavoring to make the state energy-independent.

As a part of LCP, Rhode Island required utilities to adopt “system reliability planning,” a strategy that includes cost-effective energy efficiency, load control, and distributed generation measures targeted to reduce peak loads. The legislation also included a systems benefit charge—a distribution fee designed to fund energy efficiency programs. This financing mechanism enabled RI-EERMC to hire VEIC and Optimal Energy for their expertise in policy, planning, design, and implementation.

Solution:

VEIC and Optimal Energy began work with Rhode Island in 2008. The goal was to build lasting relationships that would provide professional oversight and expertise, as well as to develop initiatives and programs required by LCP legislation.

Over the course of the five years that followed, the VEIC-led team developed a suite of programs, policies, and partnerships that positioned Rhode Island as a leader in energy efficiency.

Results:

  • Strong legislation that decoupled revenues from sales of gas and electric energy, required the Public Utility Commission to fund cost-effective efficiency programs, and aggressively promoted cost-effective combined heat and power measures
  • Increased energy savings for state and municipal facilities and a framework for achieving additional savings
  • Legislation that allows municipalities to purchase street lights and switch to energy efficient LED lighting
  • Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for homeowners who want to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy
  • A strategy for targeted solar installation in a load-constrained area, which reduced the need for new substations and feeders