EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) is using the sun to save some cash and keep the air clean.

RIPTA is saving money on its electric bill with energy credits from a solar farm along the Seekonk River.

“Kearsarge has a plant out in East Providence. They took an old brownfield site, remediated it, built the solar farm and they sell the credits,” RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian said.

The more than 6,000 solar panels are off of Dexter Road, where petroleum products were once stored. The tanks were demolished in the 1980s.

“We didn’t want a partnership where they would go and clear cut the entire land. So, no trees were taken down for the project,” Avedisian said.

Avedisian told 12 News that RIPTA is a 24-hour operation, with facilities in Providence, Middletown and Newport. All of the buses are cleaned, washed and sanitized each day and electrified buses need to be charged nightly.

In 2018, RIPTA was awarded federal funding to purchase electric buses. Currently, RIPTA has three electrified buses in service, but 14 more have been ordered, meaning their electricity demand will only be growing.

RIPTA electric bus
A RIPTA Electric Bus

RIPTA expects to save $250,000 per year on their electric bill, which is about 30% of their overall electric costs. Avedisian also said RIPTA is now using 97% renewable sources of energy.

Kearsarge said their 2,800-megawatt solar farm will save about 62,000 tons of carbon emissions from going into the atmosphere over 25 years, which is the equivalent of preserving approximately 73,000 acres of forest.

“For us, it was also an opportunity to work with the Office of Energy Resources, to work with Commerce RI, and obviously the City of East Providence and their Waterfront Development Commission to show that government can work together at all levels and get something really good done,” Avedisian said.

The solar farm is currently producing electricity and is hooked up to National Grid. RIPTA is saving money with the renewable energy credits.