Clean Energy

The Town of Portsmouth seeks to support renewable energy resources that are located in Rhode Island or as close to the state as possible. The Portsmouth Community Electricity program presents a unique opportunity for the Town to influence the development of renewable energy resources by going above and beyond the requirements of the State – this means voluntarily purchasing additional renewable energy. 

In Portsmouth Community Electricity, all purchases of renewable electricity will be certified by purchasing and retiring Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), the accepted legal instrument used to track renewable energy generation and to substantiate claims of renewable energy use. Read more about why we need RECs.

Sourcing the Additional Renewable Energy

On Our Grid

All of the additional renewable energy in the Portsmouth Community Electricity program will come from sources designed as RI New. These sources must be part of our New England electricity grid. This stands in contrast to some electricity supplies that obtain their renewable energy from national sources (e.g. Texas) that are not physically connected to our New England electricity grid. While those sources provide very cheap electricity, you get what you pay for: including them in the electricity mix does not move our region away from fossil fuels.

Only from New England 

By law, RI New renewable energy can come from New England or adjacent parts of Canada and New York that are connected to our grid. Portsmouth plans to source its additional renewable energy exclusively from within New England. We’re helping to keep our energy impact local and supporting New England’s clean energy economy.

Solar, Wind, LI Hydro & Anaerobic Digestion

The additional renewable energy will come only from zero emission sources, such as solar, wind, low-impact hydro1, or anaerobic digesters which destroy the potent greenhouse gas methane2. Although traditional biomass, such as wood-fired generation, is eligible as RI New, Portsmouth CEA does not plan to include it in its additional renewable energy.

Our Local Partner

Portsmouth Community Electricity program expects to source all of the additional renewable energy, above and beyond state law requirements, from Green Energy Consumers Alliance, a local non-profit that helps bring new renewable projects to New England through strategic support of development opportunities with short and long term contracts.   

Resources that are part of the Green Energy Consumers Alliance portfolio as of October 2020. 

What Are RECs and Why We Need Them 

When electricity generated by renewable sources – such as solar and wind – is put onto our regional electricity grid, it becomes mixed in with and indistinguishable from the other electricity on the grid. It is not possible to physically separate out renewable electricity from the grid mix for your individual consumption. 

As a result, a tracking system, called Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), has been created to enable the purchase and use of renewable electricity. For every one megawatt-hour of renewable electricity generated, one REC is created. In order to use renewable electricity, one must purchase a quantity of RECs equal to the amount of electricity purchased from the grid. Once used, a REC is retired so that no one else can purchase that same REC or claim to use it.

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1Hydro projects that do not exceed 30 MW built after 1997 or have capacity additions or efficiency improvements made after 1997 (RI New eligible), and Low Impact Hydro Institute (LIHI) certified.

2Environmental Protection Agency. Understanding Global Warming Potentials. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/understanding-global-warming-potentials