The Land Use Unit of the Division works with other federal and state agencies, programs, boards, committees, and councils and non-profit entities on the use, production and consumption of energy in the State. Ongoing technical planning advice and support is provided to municipalities and others in planning for the use and conservation of energy as well as the land use siting factors for the development of renewable resources.

State Guide Plan Element:

Energy 2035 Cover

The State Guide Plan Element for energy policy was adopted by the State Planning Council on October 8, 2015. Energy 2035 guides the activities of the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) and the LandUse Unit of the Division of Statewide Planning. The Element describes the existing state of Rhode Island’s energy system and sets goals and policies to improve energy security, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability in all sectors of energy production and consumption. The Land Use staff provided functional oversight to the OER as the Element was developed and oversaw the adoption of the Element by the State Planning Council.

Renewable Energy Siting Guidelines

The Statewide Planning Program is charged by RI General Law §42-11-10-(f)7to produce renewable energy facility siting guidelines. The statute directs the Program to consider guidelines for the location of renewable energy resources within commercial, industrial, and agricultural areas, areas occupied by public and private institutions, and property of the State, as appropriate.

Image of Solar Energy plan

The Land Use unit together with the Office of Energy Resources produced this second volume of renewable energy siting guidelines. The principles reflected in the guidelines are voluntary guidance and represent the participation of state and local officials, renewable energy developers, residents, property owners, business and utilities, and non-governmental organizations. The documents were developed in collaboration with a broad set of stakeholders and public outreach meetings that occurred across the State between June and October 2018.

Image of Solar energy system plans

There are three resources concerning the siting of solar energy systems in Rhode Island. The documents should be reviewed together in their entirety; starting with the general information presented in the PowerPoint, then, the report on comprehensive plans, and lastly, the report which contains the templates for zoning and taxation ordinances. Taking one document in insolation, without reading the others, will not provide the reader with the benefit of the comprehensive and interlinked advice within all the documents. A glossary and the references used throughout the project are included in the Comprehensive Plans & Solar Energy Systems Report.

Below are PDF links to the final documents:

2017 – The Rhode Island Land-Based Wind Siting Guidelines, 2017, is the most recent view of siting wind energy systems applicable to proposed turbines ≥ 200 feet in height or rated to produce ≥ 100 kW of power. These guidelines contain additional information not available in 2012 and were published by the Office of Energy Resources.

Other information on wind energy in Rhode Island: current market, programs, incentives, and resources can be found by clicking the link to the Office of Energy Resources under the Other Resources and Helpful Links below.

2012 - The Division published in 2012 a technical paper, Renewable Energy Siting Guidelines, Part 1 Interim Siting factors for Terrestrial Wind Energy Systems. This paper was the first look at addressing the land use and regulatory issues involved with siting land-based wind turbines through the existing regulatory framework established by RI General Law § 45-24, the Rhode Island Zoning Enabling Act.