Raimondo orders Rhode Island government to cut emissions

By Matt O'Brien, Associated Press

Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order committing the state's government to be 100% powered with clean energy sources by 2025.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order Tuesday committing the state's government to be 100 percent powered with clean energy sources by 2025.

She also directed state agencies to cut their electricity consumption 10 percent by 2019.

"Being the Ocean State, we are uniquely vulnerable to climate change," Raimondo said before signing the order. "But also, we have a unique opportunity to emerge as leaders among states as we deal with the challenges and very real threats of climate change."

Work will begin to replace nearly 1,000 old light bulbs with energy-efficient lighting, retrofit heating and cooling systems and install electric vehicle charging stations at many of Rhode Island's more than 900 state buildings. The order also calls on state agencies to encourage workers to commute by foot, bike or bus, replace inefficient appliances, and pledges that 25 percent of new state vehicles will emit no emissions by 2025.

State officials could not immediately provide a cost estimate for the planned changes, but Raimondo said the work pays for itself by lowering the government's annual $35 million energy bill. She also cited the falling cost of solar technology.

"If we get this right, we'll save taxpayers a lot of money," she said.

Raimondo, a Democrat, has championed the clean energy economy, including the nation's first offshore wind farm being built off the state's coast. Her directive coincided with a U.N. climate conference in Paris where more than 190 nations are negotiating environmental commitments.

Raimondo said Rhode Island's government, including her own statehouse staff, should set an example.

"The great irony is, as I was finishing up the meeting before coming in here, one of the windows was open in my suite," she said, letting heated air escape from the building on a day when temperatures were in the 40s. "Enough is enough. We can do better."

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