From the Desk of the Commissioner

Published Date
May 2020
Nicholas Ucci
Nicholas Ucci

Much has changed in our world over the past few months. I want to express my sincerest wishes for your continued health and safety during this difficult time. Today, I would like to offer some perspective on the road ahead and reassure you that our Administration and the Office of Energy Resources remain committed to advancing a cleaner, more affordable, and more reliable energy future.

First, I want to acknowledge the response of our people, communities, and leadership during this unprecedented crisis. Governor Raimondo’s steady leadership and clear, consistent communication during these past weeks have strengthened Rhode Island. Moving forward, we must all play a part to improve (and sustain) public health, as well as support economic recovery wherever possible. Further, our communities will need to work together to support the most vulnerable among us. If the response to date has shown us anything, it is that the Ocean State – its families, businesses, community organizations, and governments – will rise to meet this challenge. 

Recently, Governor Raimondo revealed her plan for reopening Rhode Island, which takes a multi-phased approach for getting our economy back up and running. You may view all the details here: https://www.reopeningri.com. Restarting the economy will not be like flicking on a light switch – rather, it will take place gradually over the months ahead, as we assess and reevaluate public health and safety at each stage.

I want to assure our stakeholders that our focus on Rhode Island’s clean energy future and our commitment to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions have not waned. At OER, we continue to operate on a full-time basis. My team and I have been teleworking and continue to engage, virtually, with stakeholders and industry partners. We remain committed to our agency’s mission to advance a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future for all Rhode Islanders. I want to thank the OER team – and all my State Government colleagues – for their commitment and dedication, particularly during these trying times. 

On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and in response to a July 2019 executive order by Governor Raimondo, OER released an important report on Heating Sector Transformation in coordination with the Division of Public Utilities & Carriers. Over the past several months, we held three public workshops (two in person, one online), each of which attracted more than 60 participants. Stakeholder dialogue and comment represented important input as we developed our findings, and we are grateful for such incredible public engagement. The Final Heating Sector Transformation report can be viewed at: http://www.energy.ri.gov/HST/. 

We have many other clean energy initiatives now underway to support deployment of nation-leading, cost-effective energy-efficiency investments, as well as to accelerate clean energy portfolio growth. For instance, in collaboration with the Energy Efficiency & Resource Management Council (EERMC) and National Grid, we are hard at work developing a robust and comprehensive plan for cost-effective efficiency programs through 2023. Importantly, we are communicating with Rhode Island’s energy-efficiency vendor community to better understand the impacts of COVID on their businesses and workforce, and working with the utility to ensure we can ramp up service delivery as the immediate crisis dissipates. 

Also, on April 27, we announced the availability of $1 million in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) funds to facilitate renewable project development on contaminated brownfields. Finally, we are working hard to launch an analytical and stakeholder process to support Governor Raimondo’s call for Rhode Island to meet 100% of its electricity demand with renewables by 2030 – another nation-leading initiative. Details on all of OER’s programs and initiatives are available on our website: http://www.energy.ri.gov/. 

The Ocean State has a load road ahead, but I remain optimistic about our future. As we move toward a new normal, let us not forget that climate change still represents a vital threat to our public health, economy, environment, and way of life. Yet, if COVID has taught us anything, it is that Rhode Island can pull together in times of crisis to meet – and overcome – the most daunting of challenges. It is with that spirit that I look forward to continuing to work with all of you in the months ahead.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Ucci
Acting Commissioner    
Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources