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DPUC and OER issue report on heating sector transformation needed to fight climate change

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Environmental groups call for immediate action based on reports conclusions and recommendations.


A key lesson from your leadership during the current COVID-19 crisis is that our decisions must be grounded in science and data. The science of climate change is clear and unequivocal. To prevent the worst effects of climate change – effects already being felt in Rhode Island – we must decarbonize our economy by 2050, and the state needs to act quickly and decisively to benefit the generations to come.”


The Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers and the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources released a report this week on what it would take to decarbonize the heating sector in our state. Outside consultants, The Brattle Group, helped to develop the report with input from state agencies and environmental groups such as Acadia Center, Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), Green Energy Consumers and The Nature Conservancy.

Read the report here: Heating Sector Transformation in Rhode Island – Pathways to Decarbonization by 2050

The heating sector is one of the three big sectors of the economy that contribute greenhouse gas emissions (with the other two sectors being electricity and transportation). Reducing these emissions is crucial if we are to prevent the worst effects of global warming.

The report lays out a number of strategies the state should adopt towards the decarbonization process, noting that no one path or plan is is optimal. It will take a variety of strategies and technologies to achieve the goal. But there are some general policy recommendations in the HST Report that Rhode Island must begin implementing aggressively now, if the goal is to be met.

The four environmental groups mentioned as being active in the development of the report today released a letter that they have sent to Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo emphasizing the fact that “when dealing with the climate emergency, the time for studies and consultations is long past; the time for strong, aggressive action is now.”


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The letter lays out four ideas that can and must be implemented immediately to begin the path towards decarbonizing the heating sector:

  • Science-based, mandatory greenhouse gas emissions reduction requirements: We need to immediately adopt the 2020 Act on Climate Bill (S2165, H7399) that would amend the Resilient Rhode Island Act to update our emissions targets to be enforceable and in line with the latest science.
  • Aggressive implementation of energy efficiency: The report highlights that energy efficiency is an essential component of decarbonization strategy. Rhode Island must do all that it can in the annual efficiency planning process to strengthen and expand the scope of our efficiency work as a necessary first step to decarbonization.
  • Rapid expansion of the use of heat pumps: Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced substantially when using heat pumps compared with heating oil, propane, and fossil (“natural”) gas. We applaud the Office of Energy Resources for allocating resources to rescue heat pump incentives for delivered fuels customers. Rhode Island needs to create a long-term, sustainable, and equitable program and expand its reach across the state.
  • 100% Renewable Energy Standard: The report highlights the need to greatly electrify the thermal sector. To do this in a way that best reduces greenhouse gas emissions, we need to adopt a 100% Renewable Energy Standard, a policy that would implement your 100% Clean Electricity Executive Order from January 2020.

“The climate crisis is one that we have seen coming for many years,” reads the letter. “We know, from this report and others, what we need to do to mitigate the worst outcomes. What we need now is political leadership and courage from you to enable these policies and programs. A key lesson from your leadership during the current COVID-19 crisis is that our decisions must be grounded in science and data. The science of climate change is clear and unequivocal. To prevent the worst effects of climate change – effects already being felt in Rhode Island – we must decarbonize our economy by 2050, and the state needs to act quickly and decisively to benefit the generations to come.”