Energy Incentive Programs, Rhode Island
Updated October 2012
What public-purpose-funded energy efficiency programs are available in my state?
Rhode Island's restructuring law includes a system benefits charge of 2 mill/kWh for energy efficiency programs, and 0.3 mills/kWh for renewable energy programs, through 2012. Over $35 million was budgeted for energy efficiency across all program types (including low-income and residential) in 2010; figures for 2011 are not available. The programs are administered by the local utilities.
Rebates are available state-wide through the Cool Choice program, which provides rebates for high-efficiency HVAC equipment, including split system and single packaged air conditions and heat pumps. Dual enthalpy economizer controls, demand-controlled ventilation, and electronically commutated motors (ECMs) for supply fans may be eligible for a fixed incentive amount. Contact your utility for pre-approval before purchasing and installing the new equipment.
National Grid provides a variety of energy efficiency services to its electric customers, all of which are organized under two initiatives:
The Large Business Programs are for either new construction or existing buildings, and include
Incentives for energy-efficient lighting, VFDs, HVAC equipment and chillers, compressed air (new construction only), and custom measures in both new construction and existing buildings (pre-approval required for all rebates);
Technical assistance (via third-party contractors) in identifying, implementing, and evaluating energy efficiency opportunities for new construction, renovations, and equipment replacement;
Assistance with financing of energy-efficient equipment and projects;
Building commissioning (via third-party contractors) to verify that newly installed systems are operating according to specifications; and
Fixed low prices, through the "Buyers' Alliance," for lighting materials such as electronic ballasts, high-efficiency fixtures, and energy-efficient lamps.
The Small Business Program pays 70% of the cost of the installation of energy-efficient equipment and finances the remaining 30% interest-free for up to 24 months. The program is open to customers with an average demand of 200 kilowatts or less. Free energy audits are also offered.
National Grid participates in the Building Operator Certification (BOC) initiative, which seeks to train and certify building operators to optimize the operations of their facilities.
National Grid also offers gas efficiency opportunities, such as technical assistance, including energy assessments and audits in existing buildings and design assistance in new construction projects. Rebates are available, also, for space and water heating, as well as commercial kitchen equipment.
What utility energy efficiency programs are available to me?
For utility-administered energy efficiency programs, see the previous section.
What load management/demand response options are available to me?
The Independent System Operator New England Inc. (ISO-NE) offers its Demand Response programs, which provide payments to electricity users for load reductions (of as little as 100 kW), either by reducing usage or operating on-site generation during periods of high demand. Customers may participate in the program through any participating member ("Market Participant") of the New England Power Pool, such as a utility company, power marketer, competitive energy supplier, or independent curtailment service provider (CSP). The Market Participant is allowed to aggregate load to reach the quantity qualification limit, so customers interested in these programs with less than 100 kW to offer may want to contact their utility or other eligible party.
ISO-NE's Forward Capacity Market (FCM) allows customers to bid their load reduction capabilities – whether constant (such as an indoor lighting retrofit project), seasonal (such as a new energy-efficient chiller plant), or dispatchable (such as a back-up generator or demand management actions) – into a forward capacity auction that permits demand-side resources to compete with supply-side ones. Bids that are accepted are paid the auction clearing price. These auctions take place annually for commitment periods three years in the future (though the qualification process begins roughly a year in advance). Interested facilities should contact a market participant regarding the auction schedule; in addition, market participants may have unfilled capacity commitments ahead of the next auction.
Market participation includes both active (conventional demand response, including real-time emergency generation) and passive (energy efficiency and distributed generation, including renewables) options. Active DR opportunities include:
Real-Time Demand Response, which provides an opportunity for customers to receive payments for responding to system emergencies. Participants are paid a capacity payment (through the FCM) and for actual load reductions based on the real-time locational marginal price. Customers must respond within 30 minutes and must be able to receive dispatch instructions through a market participant or their agent ("demand-designated entity"). Participating customers must also have interval metering installed at their facility.
Price-Responsive Demand, a real-time demand response option that allows participants to offer reductions into the day-ahead energy market. These customers are paid for cleared reductions in the market and are expected to interrupt in real time (according to their offers).
Real-Time Emergency Generation, which is for generators whose federal, state, and local permitting limits operation to actual or imminent loss of external power. Calls to participate are restricted to times when ISO-NE has instituted manual 5% voltage reductions. Real-Time Emergency Generation resources must be capable of curtailing end-use electric consumption from the New England grid within 30 minutes of receiving a dispatch instruction, and maintaining that curtailment until notified. For an emergency generator that does not operate in parallel with the grid, the participating customer must have an interval meter installed on the generator (or entire facility). Otherwise, interval metering of both are required.
What distributed energy resource options are available to me?
The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) provides information on programs in Rhode Island that offer incentives for renewable distributed generation. The following programs may be of interest to federal customers:
Rhode Island's Renewable Energy Fund provides low-interest loans and re-payable grants to support financially self-sustaining renewable projects.
In 2011, the Rhode Island legislature enacted a requirement for the state's electricity distributors to buy the 15-yr. output of at least 40 MW of renewable generation by 2014 using a standard feed-in tariff. There are different terms for different sources, but no individual systems can exceed 5 MW.
Are there energy efficiency programs sponsored by the state government?
The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources works in cooperation with National Grid to provide cash incentives through both the Large and Small Business Programs (see above for details).
What additional opportunities are available to me?
Federal customers whose utilities have area-wide supply contracts through GSA (e.g. National Grid), may be able to take advantage of 3rd-party financed energy efficiency projects called utility energy services contracts (UESCs). Information is available on GSA's Energy Center of Expertise Library Page. Federal facilities should contact their account executive to determine the level of each utility's participation.