RI Renewable Energy Growth Program – 2018 Update
The RI Renewable Energy Growth (REG) Program is a feed-in tariff program that allows Rhode Island residents to install a profitable solar array on their home. On April 1st, 2018 the program will be back in full-swing; National Grid will start accepting application for interconnection of Renewable Energy Growth Program solar arrays at this time. The REG program will allow for 6.55 Megawatts of residential solar installation on Rhode Island homes in 2018; this amounts to about 1,000 solar arrays of 6.5 Kilowatts in size (an average assumed size).
The New 2018 REG Rates
The Renewable Energy Growth Program is designed to enable a simple, customer-friendly process with standard pricing for residential and non-residential solar photovoltaic systems. This incentive is an alternative to Net Metering solar installations and the accompanying Renewable Energy Fund Grant (REF Grant).
The highest incentive in the Renewable Energy Growth Program is offered for Solar arrays under 11.0 Kilowatts in size. Homeowners can select one of two contracted rates for National Grid to pay them for the electricity they produce:
- $0.3225 per kilowatt-hour for a 15-year contract
- $0.2855 per kilowatt-hour for a 20-year contract
Generally Newport Solar clients have selected the higher paying 15-year contract in order to increase their cash flow early during solar ownership.
REG Running out of Capacity
As many RI residents have heard, the small-scale residential REG program ran out of capacity in October of 2017. This meant that interested RI homeowners needed to wait for new capacity in 2018 in order to participate in this popular program. In the past the REG program had remained open year-round. During 2017, the unexpected early depletion of all capacity slowed down installers like Newport Solar. In addition, it frustrated homeowners interested in solar.
The Need to Improve the RI Renewable Energy Growth Program in 2018
We are fortunate to have policies in place that promote and incentivize renewable energy projects. Keeping with this trend, Newport Solar has been working with policymakers in Rhode Island to improve our most popular incentive program: The Renewable Energy Growth Program (REG). This great program has one major flaw: it imposes limits on the total nameplate capacity of renewable power generating devices (like solar PV) that may become eligible to sell their power under the program per year; in 2017 this limit was 6.55 MW of capacity for small-scale installations.
The Proposed Improvement to the REG in 2018
To help prevent this type of problem from occurring in 2018, state representatives have introduced a bill in the RI General Assembly (H.B. 7050). This bill represents an immediate action by elected officials to support the local solar industry. Additional capacity of 2 Megawatts will be added into the 2018 program in the event it becomes oversubscribed, as it did in 2017.
This would allow about an additional 300 Rhode Island homeowners to go solar in 2018; the ability to earn money through the REG would be available to them. While this bill represents a big step in the right direction, the caps on capacity still exist in future years, and lifting the cap in 2018 may actually lower the cap in 2019.
Newport Solar regularly works with the Rhode Island legislators and we are hopeful that future legislation will increase or eliminate these annual caps and allow the renewable energy industry to grow with market demand.
Changing the REG rates due to the 30% USA Solar Import Tariff
Rhode Island policymakers and the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (RIPUC) have also made changes to the 2018 REG program in direct response to the impact caused by President Trump’s 30% import tariff on solar modules. Originally, the per kWh price to be paid to homeowners for the Small Solar REG program was going to be 31.25 cents/kWh. However, the RIPUC increased this rate to 32.25 cents/kWh for new projects that enter into a 15-year contract. This increase in system cost will be offset by the increase in per kWh payment. Way to go little Rhode Island!
The REG program will open on April 1st of this year with the new, higher compensation. Rhode Island’s popular REG Program can generate a positive cash flow for homeowners. It is a great way for Rhode Island residents to go solar; an efficient, well installed REG system generates enough cash flow to service a solar loan and leave money in a homeowner’s pocket.
The RI Renewable Energy Growth Program is back on its feet in 2018. Contact Us today; with the Renewable Energy Growth Program, we will help you go solar and save money in the process.
This article was researched and written by Newport Solar employees, Kara Kilmartin and Eric Martin.