New Solar Panel Array Helps RI Reduce Its Energy Consumption

Apr 30, 2018

Energy use in Rhode Island is down about 11 percent since 2015, according to Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo. 

She made the comment while touring a solar array on top of the state Administration building last week. 

In 2015, Raimondo signed an executive order directing state agencies, cities and towns, quasi-public agencies and state colleges and universities to "lead by example" in energy efficiency and the development of clean energy projects. The goal was to reduce energy consumption by at least 10 percent by the end of fiscal year 2019. 

These solar panels on top of the state Department of Administration building are part of a new solar array that includes a total of 900 panels across three state buildings.
Credit Avory Brookins / RIPR

State officials said a new array of 900 solar panels on top of the state Department of Administration, Department of Transportation and Department of Health buildings will help the state make even more progress.

The solar panels have been generating electricity for the buildings since the beginning of this year. They reduce the amount of electricity the buildings need to pull from the regional electrical grid.

Stuart Flanagan, co-founder and principal of Newport Renewables, the company that installed the panels, said solar projects like this one help decrease the need for fossil fuels.

"It’s been proven on sunny days like this, the more and more solar that comes online, the less power plants need to run and even some plants don’t need to turn on," Flanagan said. 

The solar panels eliminate carbon emissions estimated to be equivalent to taking 56 cars off the road each year.

They're also expected to save the state about $68,000 each year in energy costs. 

Currently, six state buildings are powered by solar panels. The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources said they’ll be looking to add more when state buildings are scheduled for energy efficiency upgrades.