Lobbyists prove influential in RI energy debate

RHODE ISLAND - Rhode Island's push to expand its renewable energy market has provided plenty of green for Statehouse lobbyists.

At least $400,000 has been spent on lobbying this year by corporations with a stake in the debate as lawmakers hash out deals between power developers, energy suppliers and labor unions.

That's double the amount spent on such lobbying in 2005. That was before Governor Don Carcieri set a goal of providing 20 percent of the state's electricity needs through renewable resources.

Some Rhode Island lawmakers, including Senator J. Michael Lenihan, an East Greenwich Democrat, say work by lobbyists helps them make an educated vote on complicated legislation.

But others, such as Rep. Laurence Ehrhardt, a North Kingstown Republican, object to what they say are closed-door compromises and last-minute deal-making.


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