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Friday, July 27, 2012

New funding for renewable energy

R.I. Energy Fund has $6M Available for Renewables

By TIM FAULKNER/ News staff
PROVIDENCE — There’s some positive news at the troubled Economic Development Corporation (EDC), at least for its Renewable Energy Fund.
Some $6.5 million is now available in the Renewable Energy Fund (REF) to finance renewable energy and green technology projects. The Office of Energy Resources, the EDC and Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s office will determine how the money will be invested. 
Residential and municipal groups are expected to be involved in determining the qualifications needed to apply for grants and loans. Entities can also apply to the REF on an ongoing basis.  

“We have rules and regulations as to how this money goes out,” said EDC finance manager Earl Queenan Jr. to the agency’s board of directors at a July 23 meeting. Queenan has been running the REF with Hannah Morini, the renewable energy program manager, since former director Julian Dash departed in June.
The Renewable Energy Fund shifted from the Office of Energy Resources to the EDC in 2008. The fund has awarded $12.6 million for projects such as the offshore zoning plan known as the Ocean SAMP ($3.2 million), the Toray Plastics Inc. solar array ($750,000) and a wind turbine at the Safe Way Auto Center in Bristol ($62,500). About 90 percent of the funds have been awarded as grants. That money has leveraged $41 million in additional capitol for REF projects.
Queenan said $5 million has come into the fund since June 20, most from Narragansett Electric. The payment, called an alternative compliance payment, or ACP, is money paid by electric suppliers to the EDC to comply with alternative energy benchmarks. A fee charged to electricity customers has delivered $8.8 million to the renewable fund. The charge delivers between $200,000 and $225,000 to the REF each month.
“As you can see, money is not a problem (for the REF),” Chafee said after the meeting. “Making a good use of it is our goal.”
Here are top 10 recipients of grants and loans from the REF since 2008:
·         Ocean SAMP, $3.2 million, research;
·         Toray Plastics, $750,000, solar array;
·         United Natural Foods Inc., $700,000, solar array;
·         West Broadway Neighborhood Association, $520,000, solar;
·         PCS Utilidata, $500,000, loan;
·         Arpin Van Lines, $487,940, loan and grant;
·         East Bay Energy Consortium, $435,000, wind and energy efficiency;
·         Town of Portsmouth, $400,000, loan for wind energy;
·         City of Providence, $266,960, recoverable grant; 
·         Tomorrow Biofuels, $250,000.