RIPTA and Elected Leaders Celebrate Ribbon Cutting on Two-Acre Solar Panel Roof Project

Officials from the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), Federal Transit Administration, and the Congressional Delegation joined Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially celebrate the installation of a two-acre, 300 kilowatt solar roof field at RIPTA’s Transportation Building located on Melrose Street in Providence.

The solar roof project was funded through a $1.2 million FTA Transit Investment in Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) grant, which requires a 20% state match. Attorney General Kilmartin directed $240,000 in funding to the project as part of a 2007 court order resulting from a lawsuit brought by Rhode Island, other states, and the federal government against American Electric Power Service Corporation (AEP). The remainder of the $1.9 M project was funded by a combination of RIPTA and other federal grants, including $340,000 in ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funds for facility repairs.

Believed to be the second largest publicly owned solar panel installation in the State of Rhode Island, the project is constructed of 1,134 250-watt solar panels covering 37,258 square feet, with a 283.5kWdc total generating capacity. The two-acre project also required upgrading the roof with a with 30-yr LEED appropriate membrane.

The 283 kW system is expected to produce 350,000 kWh per year, enough to power thirty-two average American homes. This is approximately 25% of the facility’s electricity demand and is expected to save $55,000 annually. The project will prevent 6,180 tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere over 25 years. The savings would power thirty-two average American homes.

The panels, which are warranted for 25 years, were made using American made products from Massachusetts and California. This renewable solar energy panel system created 15 jobs for local tradesmen.

“This is just the latest of many recent steps to make RIPTA’s facilities more environmentally friendly,” said RIPTA CEO Raymond Studley. “On behalf of the Board and our hardworking employees, I thank Attorney General Kilmartin and our federal partners for securing the funds for this project, which are greatly helping to further our efforts to be more environmentally friendly,” said Mayor Scott Avedisian, chairman of RIPTA’s board of directors. “This initiative is just the latest in many that we are implementing at RIPTA to improve the agency and help it run more efficiently and cost-effectively for our customers.”

“Through investing in renewable energy, Rhode Island can create jobs and spur economic growth,” Governor Lincoln D. Chafee said. “We can promote new and innovative technologies to provide sustainable energy for the state and send a message beyond our borders that Rhode Island cares about the environment.”

Rhode Island is a national leader in energy efficiency and this investment demonstrates our commitment to reduce costs and make our communities cleaner. I am pleased to have worked with federal and state officials to secure funds for this new solar roof that will convert sunlight into electricity to help RIPTA reduce their energy consumption and save taxpayer dollars,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, who helped secure $75 million for the federal grant program in the Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriations law.

"I'm proud of RIPTA for helping position Rhode Island as a leader in the clean energy economy with this new installation," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, one of the Senate's lead advocates for environmentally friendly energy policies. "Smart choices like this one will help curb the damaging effects of climate change and preserve our environment for our children."

“Using public transportation is a great way to lower carbon emissions and reduce our impact on the environment. RIPTA has taken that goal a step further and, through this solar energy project, is emerging as a leader in clean energy in Rhode Island,”said Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI). “I hope that more state agencies take a page from RIPTA’s book and turn to clean energy as a way to reduce costs and benefit the environment.”

“Investing in renewable source of energy is a critical way to ensure our nation’s energy independence and create good-paying jobs that will support Rhode Island families in a global economy,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “I congratulate RIPTA on today’s announcement and applaud their ongoing work to promote energy efficiency and public transportation here in Rhode Island.”

“This project is a great example of the State investing in alternative energy technology to significantly reduce air emissions from traditional energy sources, generate its own power, and ultimately save taxpayer dollars by reducing operating costs,” said Attorney General Kilmartin. “Over the past several years, the state has made a commitment to reduce energy costs through renewable energy projects, and through the AEP settlement funds, we have supported the completion of several projects that have reduced the costs to operate state facilities.”

I commend the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority’s leadership in developing clean, renewable energy sources for their facilities here in Providence,” said Mayor Taveras. “Smart transit and clean energy are keys to our future success, and RIPTA is a vital partner to the City of Providence as we work to build a brighter future for our capital city and all of Rhode Island.”

About the AEP Settlement
The $240,000 is part of a 2007 court order resulting from a lawsuit brought by Rhode Island, other states, and the federal government against American Electric Power Service Corporation (AEP). Rhode Island and the other plaintiffs alleged that AEP constructed and modified numerous power plants in the Ohio River valley without the permits required under the Clean Air Act, causing increased smog in Rhode Island and other states. Under the court order, as recently reopened and increased, AEP paid a $15 million penalty and committed $65 million to perform or finance pro-environmental projects, of which approximately $30 million was distributed to eight states to fund pollution reduction, renewable energy, green building, and other environmental projects. Rhode Island’s portion of the settlement was approximately $2 million, distributed through five annual installments of $240,000 through 2012 and an additional installment of $714,000.

In previous years, the Attorney General has leveraged these court-ordered monies to reduce state energy costs and harmful air pollution through the installation of wind turbines at Fishermen’s Memorial State Campground and East Matunuck State Beach, as well providing for upgraded air emissions devices on state-owned heavy equipment.

For a more information, please call 401-781-9400 or visit ripta.com