Solar powers economic development in Rhode Island

A rooftop solar array installed by owner of a business development center in South Kingston, R.I., is helping to reduce carbon emissions and operating expenses associated with the facility, which is home to four local businesses.

The 190 kW installation, which is the largest in the town, represents a collaborative effort from South Kingston, the state, National Grid and the industrial building's owner, Kenyon Consumer Products. Developed by EnterSolar, the project at the Fairgrounds Business Development Center was funded in part by a grant from the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation and the support of Bristol County Savings Bank.

Kenyon Consumer Products said the project fits squarely within its focus on operating an environmentally friendly business wherever possible. EnterSolar, alongside local officials and representatives from Keynon, recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the center that also celebrated the expansion of RI Mushroom Co., a renovation of Arnold Lumber's Backyard, the introduction of Shaidzon Beer Company and the growth of the Kenyon Consumer Products military underwear line, all of which operate out of the facility.

"We have always recycled, over the years we've used resealable bags in packaging, incorporated recycled fabrics in some of our garments and installed energy efficient lighting," Kenyon manager Beth Curtis told said in an email. "We had also investigated both solar and wind options in the past but they were not economically feasible until EnterSolar contacted us and explained the current programs available."

Curtis said the facility's tenants were on board with the project as they look to meet their own sustainability objects. Additionally, the solar power is expected to keep Kenyon's operating costs low, which will benefit current and future incubator tenants as well as the local economy.

"It's very encouraging to see Rhode Island businesses go solar ... Fairgrounds Realty sets a great example," Annie Ratanasim, renewable energy fund program manager of the RI Commerce Corporation said in a statement. "The REF rebate programs are here to help a wide range of Rhode Islanders achieve the ability to invest in renewable energy. In doing so, we can reduce energy costs, support the local economy, and reduce our collective carbon footprint."

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