Rhode Island, Wisconsin Investigate Benefits of RPS

Joining the growing number of states embracing Renewable Portfolio Standards ("RPS"), both Rhode Island and Wisconsin have begun to assess the potential benefits of and need for renewables to power their states.

The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission is reviewing a stakeholder group proposal that recommends the state begin enforcing an RPS in 2007 requiring both utilities and retail marketers to obtain 3% of their power supply from renewables.  Under this proposal, utilities would be allowed rate recovery of all associated costs other than non-compliance penalties.   Renewable power generated outside of the New England Power Pool would only count toward satisfying the requirement if the electricity is used by New England customers.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Jim Doyle has asked the Wisconsin Legislature to pass a bill to boost renewable energy use in the state.  More specifically, he has suggested that it adopt the recommendations of his renewable power task force, which suggested that by 2015, 10% of all electric sales come from renewable resources.  If a utility shows that RPS would increase rates or hurt system reliability, or that transmission constraints exist, however, it could ask for an extension.  This recommendation is a significant increase from the state's current renewable goal, which calls for only 2.2% of all retail electric sales to come from renewable sources by 2011. 

The Governor also has asked the Wisconsin Public Service Commission ("WPSC") and the Department of Natural Resources to work together to investigate the use of integrated-gasification combined-cycle ("IGCC") technology.  In the past, the WPSC rejected the use of IGCC technology, finding that it was too expensive.  However, due to technological advances, IGCC is now viewed as potentially beneficial to ratepayers and the environment.