On Earth Day, Rhode Island Secures $49.3 Million Federal Funding for Solar Energy Access

In a bid to democratize access to clean energy upgrades across Rhode Island, a coalition led by U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, along with Congressmen Seth Magaziner and Gabe Amo, announced today the state’s acquisition of $49.3 million in federal funding through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Solar for All Program.

The allocation, part of the Biden Administration’s $7 billion clean energy funding announcement coinciding with Earth Day 2024, is made possible by the groundbreaking Inflation Reduction Act (P.L. 117-169), enacted by Democrats in 2022. This substantial investment, earmarked for the Rhode Island Equitable Access to Solar Energy (EASE) programs, aims to propel the launch and expansion of a comprehensive suite of financial assistance and technical deployment initiatives. These programs are specifically tailored to mitigate financial hurdles to solar adoption, fostering more inclusive access to reliable solar power, particularly in historically underserved communities across the state.

According to the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER), the infusion of funds is poised to benefit thousands of households in the Ocean State, leading to substantial long-term energy cost savings for residents and noteworthy reductions in annual carbon dioxide emissions.

Senator Reed emphasized the significance of the initiative, stating, “That monthly utility bill can really upset a family’s finances. Today’s announcement is another piece of good news from the Inflation Reduction Act for Rhode Island homeowners and renters.”

Senator Whitehouse echoed Reed’s sentiments, highlighting the pivotal role of the Inflation Reduction Act in shaping Rhode Island’s clean energy future: “Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act continues to power the Ocean State’s clean energy future. This significant investment will make clean, reliable solar energy more accessible and affordable for all Rhode Island families.”

Representative Magaziner stressed the importance of reducing energy costs for working families, noting, “This grant represents an important step towards lowering household utility bills and delivering cleaner air.”

Congressman Amo hailed the federal funding as a boon for Rhode Island’s middle and working-class families, emphasizing its potential to drive down utility bills, shrink the state’s carbon footprint, and fortify its electric grid against future sustainability challenges.

Governor Dan McKee hailed the federal energy funding as crucial for meeting Rhode Island’s emissions reduction goals and bolstering the state’s clean energy economy.

Acting State Energy Commissioner Chris Kearns underscored the long-term benefits of the EPA’s Solar for All program, highlighting its potential to accelerate solar adoption and enhance energy resilience in communities disproportionately affected by climate change.

The Rhode Island EASE programs encompass a multifaceted approach aimed at bolstering energy resilience, providing direct assistance to homeowners and renters, and deploying technical assistance initiatives spanning administrative support, workforce development, community engagement, translation services, and funding for community solar ownership options.

The announcement follows concerted advocacy efforts by the Rhode Island delegation, who championed the state’s bid to secure federal funding through the EPA’s Solar for All program.

Rhode Island OER spearheaded the application for the Rhode Island EASE program, with support from a coalition comprising state agencies and nonprofit organizations, including Rhode Island Commerce, Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Rhode Island Housing, Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, Rhode Island Department of Health and Human Services, Rhode Island AFL-CIO, and Rhode Island Center for Justice.




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