By ecoRI News staff
PROVIDENCE — A renewable solar energy panel system will be installed at the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority’s John H. Chafee Transportation, Operations and Maintenance Center at 269 Melrose St., thanks in part to $240,000 in funding from a recent court order, according to Attorney General Peter Kilmartin.
Matching federal funds will cover most of the remaining cost of the $1.2 million solar energy project, he said.
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 the American Electric Power Service Corp. (AEP). Rhode Island and the other plaintiffs alleged that AEP built and modified numerous power plants in the Ohio River Valley without the permits required under the federal Clean Air Act, causing increased smog in Rhode Island and other states.
Under the court order, AEP paid a $15 million penalty and committed $60 million to perform or finance pro-environmental projects, of which $24 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 $1.2 million.
The RIPTA solar roof project will be funded through a $1.2 million FTA Transit Investment in Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction grant, which requires a 20 percent state match. The AEP funds will cover most of the required $300,000 match needed to complete the solar panel project. The project, which is set to begin this summer, is expected to be completed by the end of the year, according to Kilmartin.
“This project is a great opportunity for RIPTA to invest in technology that will allow it to significantly reduce air emissions from traditional energy sources, generate its own power and ultimately save taxpayer dollars by reducing operating costs,” Kilmartin said. “Over the past several years, the state has made a commitment to reduce energy costs through renewable energy projects, and we have leveraged the AEP funds to support the completion of several projects that have reduced the costs to operate state facilities.”
In previous years, the state has leveraged court-ordered money 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, and upgraded air emissions devices on state-owned heavy equipment.