Attempting to protect forests and undeveloped open space, Rhode Island uses a combination of rules and financial incentives to encourage siting of solar installations at brownfields, closed landfills and other previously developed properties.
With growing resentment over solar arrays that displace woodlands and farmland, environmentalists and municipal planners have been advocating for rules and incentives that site solar installations on parking lots, rooftops, brownfields, old quarries, and closed landfills. Rhode Island has an estimated 320 brownfields and some 100 landfills deemed suitable for solar development. Last year, $1 million was awarded through the Renewable Energy Fund to brownfield projects in East Greenwich, East Providence, Smithfield, and South Kingstown. Farm Fresh Rhode Island and The Steel Yard, both in the Valley neighborhood in Providence, received funding for new solar projects.