The Rhode Island Progressive Democrats of America have a plan to power Cranston with nothing but renewable energy.
Unveiled at a meeting Wednesday night, it is the first part of what the group intends to be a blueprint to meet all of Rhode Island’s energy needs and more with solar panels, wind turbines and battery storage facilities by 2030.
The group chose that date because it’s when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the planet will begin to suffer catastrophic effects of global warming unless action is taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
“We see this as a sound proposal to fight the climate crisis,” Nate Carpenter, the group’s coordinator, said before the meeting.
The goal of the blueprint isn’t just to bring the state’s emissions down to a net-zero level, it’s also to find ways to generate an excess of renewable energy that a newly created public utility could sell out of state. The profits would be channeled back to Rhode Island residents.
The plan for Cranston is to power the city with a combination of sources. Thirty percent of homes would be fitted with rooftop solar arrays while commercial, industrial and town-owned sites would have ground-mounted, rooftop or canopy systems. Vertical wind turbines – smaller and narrower than the conventional three-bladed ones – would also go up in parts of the city.
Batteries would store energy for when it’s needed and the power would be distributed on a modernized grid. Finally, aggressive energy-efficiency programs would accelerate upgrades in lighting and heating and cooling as well as insulation improvements in homes and buildings. The plan would avoid developing green space.
The Progressive Democrats hired Ocean State Community Energy, a joint venture of consulting firms ReVenture and 4E Energy, at a cost of $26,000 to develop the plan.
The idea is to show that a wholesale transformation of the Rhode Island energy system is possible, said Carpenter. Making it happen would probably require some type of bond issue. He said there are plans to continue the group’s study.
“We’re the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution,” Carpenter said. “Why can’t we be the birthplace of the energy revolution as well?”
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