TITLE 39
Public Utilities and Carriers

CHAPTER 39-31
Affordable Clean Energy Security Act

SECTION 39-31-4


§ 39-31-4 Regional energy planning.

(a) Consistent with the purposes of this chapter, and utilizing regional stakeholder processes where appropriate, the office of energy resources, in consultation and coordination with the division of public utilities and carriers, the public utility company that provides electric distribution as defined in § 39-1-2(12) as well as natural gas as defined in § 39-1-2(20), the New England States' Committee on Electricity (NESCOE), ISO-New England Inc. and the other New England states is authorized to:

(1) Participate in the development and issuance of regional or multi-state competitive solicitation(s) for the development and construction of regional electric-transmission projects that would allow for the reliable transmission of large- or small-scale domestic or international hydroelectric power to New England load centers that will benefit the state of Rhode Island and its ratepayers, and that such solicitations may be issued by The New England States' Committee on Electricity or the electric or natural gas distribution company to further the purposes of this chapter;

(2) Participate in the development and issuance of regional or multi-state competitive solicitation(s) for the development and construction of regional electric-transmission projects that would allow for the reliable transmission of eligible renewable-energy resources, as defined by § 39-26-5(a), to New England load centers that will benefit the state of Rhode Island and its ratepayers, and that such solicitations may be issued by The New England States' Committee on Electricity or the electric or natural gas distribution company to further the purposes of this chapter; and

(3) Participate in the development and issuance of regional or multi-state competitive solicitation(s) for the development and construction of regional natural gas pipeline infrastructure and capacity that will benefit the State of Rhode Island and its ratepayers by strengthening energy system reliability and security and, in doing so, potentially mitigate energy price volatility that threatens the economic vitality and competitiveness of Rhode Island residents and businesses. Such solicitations may be issued by The New England States' Committee on Electricity or the electric or natural gas distribution company to further the purposes of this chapter; and such solicitations may request proposals that are priced in increments to allow for the evaluation of project costs and benefits associated with adding various levels of additional, natural-gas pipeline capacity into New England and assist with the optimization of energy system reliability, economic, and other benefits consistent with the purposes of this chapter.

(4) As part of any such regional or multi-state competitive solicitation processes conducted pursuant to this chapter, the office of energy resources shall work jointly with the division of public utilities and carriers, and with the electric distribution company as appropriate, to identify incremental, natural-gas pipeline infrastructure and capacity and/or electric transmission projects that optimize energy reliability, economic, environmental, and ratepayer impacts for Rhode Island, consistent with the legislative findings and purpose of this chapter. The office of energy resources and division of public utilities and carriers shall be authorized to utilize expert consultants, as needed, to assist in any regional, multi-state, or state-level determination related to the procurement activities identified in § 39-31-5.

(b) Prior to any binding commitments being made by any agencies of the state, the electric distribution company, or any other entity that would result in costs being incurred directly, or indirectly, by Rhode Island electric and/or gas consumers through distribution or commodity rates, the office of energy resources and division of public utilities and carriers shall jointly file any energy infrastructure project recommendation(s) with the public utilities commission and may make such filing jointly with the electric- or natural-gas distribution company as appropriate. The public utilities commission shall consider any such recommendation(s) as specified under § 39-31-7.

(c) A copy of the filing made under subsection (b) of this section shall be provided to the governor, the president of the senate, the speaker of the house, the department of environmental management, and the commerce corporation.

(d) The electric-distribution company shall be provided with a copy of any filing made under this section at least ten (10) business days in advance of its filing with the public utilities commission and the electric- or gas-distribution utility may file separate comments when the filing is made.

(e) As part of any office of energy resources and division of public utilities and carriers filing made pursuant to this chapter, the agencies shall identify the expected energy reliability, energy security, and ratepayer impacts that are expected to result from commitments being made in connection with the proposed project(s).

(f) The office of energy resources and division of public utilities and carriers reserve the right to determine that energy infrastructure projects submitted in any regional or multi-state competitive solicitation process are not in Rhode Island's energy reliability, energy security, and/or ratepayer interests, and shall make such findings available to the governor, the president of the senate, and the speaker of the house. The electric or gas distribution utility may attach a separate opinion to those findings, at its election.

History of Section.
(P.L. 2014, ch. 424, § 1; P.L. 2014, ch. 477, § 1; P.L. 2016, ch. 512, art. 1, § 26.)