“Our hope is that the Office of Energy Resources follows their goals and the idea of a Green New Deal,” said RIPDA executive director Nate Carpenter. “This plan starts with us coming together to radically transform our energy system. We need to show what a green collar economy would mean to our state and how public utilities could work for all people, not just the 1 percent.”
“When we meet this goal, Rhode Island will be the first state in America to be powered by 100 percent renewable electricity,” said Governor Gina Raimondo last Friday, announcing her executive order directing the state’s Office of Energy Resources (OER) to conduct an economic and energy market analysis to develop actionable policies and programs. awards this goal.
The OER is expected to issue a final report by the end of the year, but the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats of America (RIPDA) have already begun the work, and they already have a plan to make Rhode Island self sufficient for all of our energy needs by 2030 through wind, solar and tidal energy.
“Our renewable energy project and blueprint accounts for all forms of energy including transportation and heating,” writes the RIPDA on their website. You can see a summary of the plan here.
The plan being produced by RIPDA was begun over a year ago and requires no money from the general fund to make it happen. No green space is to be affected by the RIPDA plan as they are using only using existing infrastructure and brown space.
Better still, RIPDA sees the new energy system Rhode Island they are buiding as returning money to the people of Rhode Island as surplus energy is sold across the border. “We want the profits from our new energy system to be returned to our citizens and municipalities. Not just the 1 percent,” they write.
The plan being created by RIPDA is centered on the City of Cranston right now, but the ideas being developed can be adjusted across the state so that all 39 municipalities can benefit.
“We chose Cranston because it had the best demographics for a pilot project,” said RIPDA executive director Nate Carpenter. “We were looking for a city with a high population, but one that would also serve as a good sample for the entire state. Cranston has urban, suburban, and even rural areas. It also has the second highest population- so it was an easy decision.”
The RIPDA plan calls for some heavy lifts. For instance, one of the things that gets in the way of a new energy system is an antiquated electrical grid.
“We need a new grid. Ours is 70 years old and 20 years past its life expectancy,” writes RIPDA. A new, decentralized grid “will help with efficiency and also make us less vulnerable to power outages.”
The RIPDA plan also calls for using “innovative technologies” like “the silent, bird friendly vertical wind turbines that can fit in a homeowners yard or expand to power a commercial complex. This gives us versatility and ability to adapt city by city,” writes RIPDA.
The advantages to RIPDA’s plan are enormous. Right now Rhode Island spends around $3B on energy every year. If we can become an energy producer, we can keep that $3B in the state. Clean energy requires twice as many workers. It is more labor intensive, so this means more jobs for our state, and the jobs are better paying, middle class jobs. Keeping energy production in the state means developing and keeping these good middle class jobs in the state.
There are also the health benefits of clean, renewable energy production. Burning fossil fuels produces air pollution and adversely affects health. The expected energy profits can be used to improve our education, healthcare, and infrastructure.
The work of RIPDA to develop a statewide clean energy plan has already caught the eye of Montana, Maine, Kansas, New Hampshire and Oregon. All of these states have in some way contacted the engineers working with RIPDA on the plan.
“The hard work of the Sunrise Movement has been monumental in addressing the climate crisis,” said Nate Carpenter. “Our hope is that the Office of Energy Resources follows their goals and the idea of a Green New Deal. This plan starts with us coming together to radically transform our energy system. We need to show what a green collar economy would mean to our state and how public utilities could work for all people, not just the 1 percent.”
RIPDA will be presenting their plan from 7pm – 8pm at Sprout CoWorking in Providence on February 10. There will be a variety of speakers present, including director Tim Guinee; Jim Vincent, President of the NAACP Providence Branch; Joseph Molina Flynn, President Rhode Island Latino PAC; David Morales, candidate for Rhode Island House District 7; and the Sunrise Movement.
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