Renewable Energy Grants Support East Providence Solar Project, Bristol Wind Turbine

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


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The state’s Renewable Energy Fund (REF) has given two financing awards totaling $325,310, one to the City of East Providence for a large solar project, and the other to Safeway Auto Service in Bristol for the town's first wind turbine. 

“Strategic investments in renewable energy not only create jobs, lower the cost of doing business and spur economic growth in our state, they are a vital part of building a dynamic and competitive business environment that positions Rhode Island at the forefront of technology and knowledge-driven innovation,” RIEDC executive director Keith Stokes said.

East Providence Begins Solar

The City of East Providence’s $200,310 recoverable REF grant will be part part of the city’s efforts to commence the phased development of a 10 to 15-megawatt solar panel energy installation to be located at the former Forbes Street landfill. Upon successful development of the project, East Providence is required to repay the full grant amount on an agreed upon schedule.

At full estimated capacity, the Forbes Street solar energy system will be one of the largest solar facilities in New England. The power generated from the project will directly offset the city’s energy expenses while also returning a brownfield property - fallow since 1980 - to productive use. In January 2010, the East Providence City Council adopted an updated five-year comprehensive plan that called for the re-use of the Forbes Street site specifically for renewable energy purposes.

Bristol’s First Wind Turbine

The RIEDC Board approved $125,000 in a combination REF loan ($62,500) and grant ($62,500) that will enable Safeway to install a 50-kilowatt wind turbine – the first of its kind in Bristol – to reduce electricity costs. The turbine will provide more than 70 percent of the electrical needs for the business. Safeway has committed to use an entirely local workforce for the installation.

The company has already undertaken significant measures to employ alternative energy and sustainable business practices. Safeway was one of the first companies to utilize biodiesel fuel for its fleet of 11 vehicles, seven of which are large tow trucks. The company has also adapted its heating system to utilize waste oil to heat the building. REF funding will allow Safeway to continue to pursue clean energy efforts to reduce utility costs through new technology and best practices.

The Renewable Energy Fund

Created by legislative statute in 1996 and managed by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation since 2008, the REF provides grants, recoverable grants and low interest loans for renewable energy businesses and projects that produce electricity from qualified renewable energy sources and stimulate job growth in Rhode Island’s economy. The REF provides incentives for the following renewable energy activities:
1) Business, commercial and institutional projects; 2) Affordable housing developments; 3) Municipal renewable energy projects; and 4) Technical and feasibility studies.

The grants to East Providence and Safeway Auto Service were approved by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation’s Board of Directors at their March 28 meeting.



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