Governor Dan McKee, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, and the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) today announced an additional $10 million in funding for the Public School Energy Equity Program, which will be used to make infrastructure improvements that will lead to healthier learning environments in the classroom and cost savings for school districts.
The energy efficiency funding is comprised of a $5 million federal earmark secured by Senator Reed from the U.S. Department of Energy and $5 million from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This new federal funding will be combined with $10 million previously allocated through the RGGI funding to create a total program budget of $20 million that will be disbursed to schools across the state.
The Public School Energy Equity Program aims to provide technical and financial assistance to schools, helping them develop and implement energy efficiency projects that will lead to significant cost savings and improve the learning environment for students. Specifically, this additional funding will allow school districts to install building automation systems and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system upgrades, heat-pump water heaters, and upgraded lighting with controls.
“This program is important because it gives our students and teachers access to learning environments that have better climate control, improved ventilation, and adequate lighting,” said Governor McKee. “Studies show that more comfortable classrooms lead to higher test scores. Furthermore, these improvements create safer conditions for our students and teachers.”
“Our kids deserve to learn in classrooms that give them the best opportunities to excel. This federal funding will help implement needed energy efficiency upgrades and improve conditions in schools,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee. “This automated technology and energy solutions will help better maintain and monitor our public school facilities, saving on energy costs and reducing Rhode Island’s carbon footprint.”
“These energy investments improve the quality of the buildings for students and teachers and provide long-term energy savings for public schools,” said Acting State Energy Commissioner Chris Kearns. “We believe that every student deserves access to a sustainable and healthy learning environment, and we are committed to working with schools throughout Rhode Island to achieve this goal.”
“We are proud Rhode Island’s school districts are leading the way in transforming into 21st century learning environments, and part of that effort includes making significant investments in energy efficiency,” said Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “Thank you to Senator Reed, Governor McKee, Commissioner Kearns and the Office of Energy Resources for their commitment to building healthy, equitable learning environments and ensuring important cost savings for school communities. Together, we will continue moving our education system forward.”
The three-year Public School Energy Equity program expands upon the work begun with the OER School Lighting Accelerator program and will focus on schools in communities with the greatest need, in alignment with the federal Justice40 initiative.
The goal of the program is to increase energy efficiency and the comfort of Rhode Island schools and to help communities reduce greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the Rhode Island 2021 Act on Climate. This act establishes mandatory and enforceable, economy-wide GHG reduction targets culminating in net zero by 2050.
Currently, qualification for this program corresponds with the communities involved in the Rhode Island Department of Education Facility Equity Initiative. The 10 communities presently eligible include Central Falls, Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, West Warwick, East Providence, North Providence, Cranston, Coventry, and Burrillville. As more communities become eligible, this list will be updated accordingly. Interested school districts are asked to fill out an application on the OER webpage to be considered for funding, which may be found here: https://energy.ri.gov/LBE/
OER’s School Lighting Accelerator program has replaced aging lights with energy efficient LEDs at 10 schools, with another 14 currently under construction (see complete list below).
Completed Public School LED Projects (10):
Central Falls (5):
Calcutt Middle School
Ella Risk Elementary School
Raices Elementary School
Veterans Elementary School
Captain Hunt Elementary School
Central High School
Agnes Little Elementary School
Fallon Memorial School
Joseph Jenks Junior High School
Pothier Elementary School
Under Construction LED Projects (14):
Juanita Sanchez Elementary School
Lima Elementary School
Fortes Elementary School
Curtis Memorial School
Cunningham Elementary School
Harris Elementary School
Hamlet Middle School
Villa Nova Middle School
West Warwick (6):
Greenbush Elementary School
Deering Middle School
Horgan Elementary School
Quinn Elementary School
Wakefield Hills Elementary School
West Warwick Senior High School