Rhode Island Chapter

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Abel Collins's blog

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Bolstering RI's Solar Industry

Just about everyone I talk to about renewable energy says that they want solar panels on their roof. Not only do you get the warm and fuzzy feeling of helping save the planet, but in the long run it's a great investment. Even without any support through State incentives, solar systems will pay for themselves in a little over a decade, after which they generate energy cost savings for decades. For most people though, that 10 year pay back period is just a little too long, and the upfront capital just a little too large to justify the investment. As a result, Rhode Island's residential renewable energy industry has been anemic in the years since 2010 when the State's renewable energy tax credit program was phased out.

Protected Bike Lanes on Westminster?

Providence is looking to become more friendly for cyclists. Plans are in the works to bring a bike share program to the big city, and the new iteration of Bike Providence was released recently. These are trends that bode well not only for Rhode Island's environment, but also for its economy, as Providence tries to woo young professionals to move in and revitalize the neighborhoods that were emptied out by the exodus to the suburbs.


(a very different version of this piece first appeared in the Providence Phoenix here)


By ABEL COLLINS/ 8.7.2013 - I walk into the Coffee Depot on Main St. in Warren at 7:30am on Sunday to meet up with Sherrie’Anne Andre and Nick Katkevich, members of the grassroots movement Fossil Free RI. With a little caffeine for courage we’ll soon be driving to a park and ride lot in nearby Somerset to rendezvous with more than a hundred other activists and be herded onto school buses that will take us where we’ll protest to shut down the Brayton Point power plant. First though Sherrie has to run to the bank to withdraw money to pay for her bail. She is going to get arrested today.

Divest: Permission to Freak and Act Out

(this first appeared in the Providence Phoenix)


By ABEL COLLINS/ 7.3.2013 - In 1988 when I was ten, I presented my Matunuck Elementary School fifth grade science fair project on carbon dioxide and the greenhouse effect. That year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was formed at the UN to assess the impacts of climate change and develope strategies to mitigate and adapt to it. It was also the year the world surpassed 350 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere, the level that scientists have determined is the highest concentration possible for a climate conducive to human civilization.


Fast forward 25 years, and we are collectively dumping 50% more carbon into the air per year. In May, we breached 400ppm and rather than steering toward the maximum global temperature increase of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 Centigrade) that was agreed upon in the Copenhagen Accord of 2009, we are on course for 10.8 degrees of heating by the end of the century. Think apocalypse and picture much of Rhode Island under water.

The Ecology Economy: R.I. Can Play the Hero

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” ~ Ben Franklin


By ABEL COLLINS/ 5.16.2013 - Fourth Economy Consulting, a firm out of Pennsylvania hired as part of the federally funded “Sustainable RI” grant, recently submitted its preliminary report of the strengths and weaknesses of Rhode Island’s economy. The first recommendation in the report’s initial guidance section is to “Create One Voice--Set a Clear Course.” This idea is not new. In fact it’s been a common refrain in the state since before I started paying close attention to economic development policy. We need an identity that we can market to the world in order to draw and retain talented people to our workforce.


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