By BRENT ADDLEMAN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Helping Rhode Island’s farmers turn to green energy is the focus of a new set of grant awards, Gov. Dan McKee said.
The governor announced Monday that $115,667 in grants have been awarded through the state’s Department of Environmental Management and Office of Energy Resources that will be used to support solar projects at six farms.
“Our farmers supply Rhode Islanders with home-grown, nutritious foods and other locally produced products, improving our quality of life,” Gov. McKee said in the release. “It is essential for us to support them and help our local farm economy thrive. I’m delighted to announce a new round of grants to help these farms convert their operations to clean energy so that we can help lower the burden of their energy bills while reducing their carbon emissions.”
According to the release, funding comes from the state’s involvement in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is the first mandatory market with a based cap and trade program designed to lower carbon dioxide emissions from the energy production sector.
“The Agricultural Energy Grant Program is helping farms meet their unique operational and energy demands while reducing utility costs and carbon footprints,” State Energy Commissioner Nicholas Ucci said in the release. “Through these important investments, our farms are not only making sound decisions for their businesses, but also contributing to Rhode Island’s efforts to address climate change.”
Elwood Orchard in Scituate, according to the release, will receive $18,027 for a 7.2-kilowatt rooftop solar project. The panels will offset 100% of the farm’s energy at the homestead and apple orchard.
The Newport Equestrian Academy in Middletown, according to the release, will receive $20,000 for a 36-kilowatt array to offset the horse farm’s energy use. Roots Farm in Tiverton will also receive $20,000 for a 17.2-kilowatt solar array that will be placed in the ground at the organic vegetable farm to grow more than 27 tons of produce.
Silk Tree Farm in Exeter, according to the release, will receive $17,640 for a 7.2-kilowatt ground-mounted array to offset all the energy use at the livestock and organic self-care product farm. Sodco Inc. in Slocum will receive $20,000 for a 53.55-kilowatt rooftop array that will offset 74% of the commercial farm’s energy. The Farm in RI at Chepachet will receive $20,000 for a 5.135-kilowatt rooftop array to offset 65% of the farm’s energy use.
According to the release, more than 1,000 farms in the state provide more than 2,500 jobs and $350 million into the state’s economy each year.