Governor, RIEDC board approve greater oversight measures

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PROVIDENCE — Governor Lincoln D. Chafee and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) Board of Directors approved new rules and regulations for the Renewable Energy Fund (REF), it was announced Monday, Dec. 17.

Changes include improved oversight through an Advisory Board to help evaluate potential projects prior to RIEDC Board consideration, a new $1 million set aside for Rhode Island-based emerging technology companies that have a product potential to transform the renewable energy business sector, and a new category that would allow residential projects to be eligible for funding.

“These changes are examples of how my administration is committed to investing taxpayer funds wisely in supporting renewable energy technologies to help businesses and consumers. At the same time, we have stronger and a specific set of rules to ensure accountability,” said Governor Chafee, who serves the RIEDC chairman.

“My Administration has worked to foster greater collaboration between the RIEDC and Office of Energy Resources (OER) to successfully administer the REF program," the governor added. "I continue to try to maximize the economic benefits associated with renewable energy development, including expanding the program to allow residential activities creating jobs and spurring economic activity.”

The new Advisory Board would be comprised of no fewer than two employees of the RI Office of Energy Resources (OER), one RIEDC staff person from the REF, one RIEDC staff person from financial services, and the director (or designated appointee) from the Science and Technology Advisory Council (STAC).

“Under Governor Chafee’s leadership, the Office of Energy Resources has collaborated closely with the RIEDC along with businesses and organizations in the energy sector on the development of the new rules and regulations. We listened and incorporated the improvements that would grow Rhode Island’s leadership in renewable energy as well as coordinate with larger policy goals towards a comprehensive energy plan,” said Dr. Marion Gold, Administrator for the OER.

With an anticipated $4.25 million in REF funding for 2013, the rules and regulations have set aside $1.5 million for small-scale solar, $1 million for innovation and market development, $1 million for project installation, and $750,000 for pre-development feasibility studies.

For the first time, residential applications for grouped projects would be accepted. New legislation passed in June 2012 expanded the eligibility to include residential in addition to commercial and affordable housing projects.

The new rules and regulations also specify a standard method to calculate return on investment for a project as well as caps on awards. The new rules and regulations are expected to become effective mid-January. Attached is a copy for the complete details.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.