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  Average rental costs went up by about 5.6 percent last year, according new data from HousingWorks, a housing research group at Roger Williams University.

The group’s annual survey was released Wednesday. It finds the average two-bedroom apartment costs a little more than $1,200 a month in Rhode Island.

HousingWorks says roughly half of renters have to spend more than 30 percent of their income to cover the rent. Director Brenda Clements says the lack of supply of affordable rentals is a persistent problem in the state.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Wind power is about to go big-time in New England, with the opening of the first offshore wind farm in the U.S., located off the Rhode Island coast. And onshore wind projects already dot the region. But Connecticut hasn’t joined the movement. The state doesn’t have a lot of wind, or available space, and only recently lifted a ban on wind turbine projects.

As part of the New England News Collaborative energy series, The Big Switch, WNPR’s Ryan Caron King goes to the tiny town of Colebrook, Connecticut to find out why wind power hasn’t taken off yet, and whether another natural resource - water reservoirs - might be the solution.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

The Town of Burrillville is asking the state Energy Facility Siting Board to dismiss Invenergy’s application on grounds that the application is incomplete.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

A dozen local and state agencies have filed their advisory opinions for Invenergy's proposed power plant, the Clear River Energy Center.

Well, sort of. A few offices did not offer opinions because they have yet to receive pertinent information and/or permits from Invenergy.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

In a surprising blow to Rhode Island's political status quo, first-time candidate Marcia Ranglin-Vassell defeated House Majority Leader John DeSimone during primary voting Tuesday.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

For Rhode Islanders seeking state assistance like health insurance or food stamps, there’s a new system in place. We visited the Department of Human Services’ field office in Providence on the first day of the new system to see how it’s working.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

The new contract would move city firefighters back onto a four platoon shift schedule. Last May, Elorza announced he would reduce the schedule to three platoons. At the time, he estimated the city would save some $5 million dollars on overtime.

The plan was denounced by the firefighters’ union, which said the schedule would require firefighters to work dangerously long hours. The union has sued the city, claiming the schedule improperly calculates overtime, leading to lower pay for firefighters. That dispute is currently in arbitration.

Onne van der Wal

The University of Rhode Island has received a three-million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation. The Graduate School of Oceanography will use the money to charter a research trip through the Canadian Arctic Northwest Passage.

During the five-week journey college students will study the effects of climate change on the arctic waters says, URI’s Gail Scowcroft, one of the lead organizers of the trip.

“The arctic is rapidly changing, and because it’s changing so fast the chemistry can give us clues as to what’s going on,” said Scowcroft.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Here's what's happening in health care in Rhode Island:

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Even with the boom in renewable power, New England still gets about half its energy from natural gas - that’s a huge jump from 15 percent in 2000. The fracking boom in the U.S. meant a big investment in gas-fired power plants. But many environmentalists are pushing back, 

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Jury selection started Monday in the trial of Dan Doyle, who faces charges of embezzlement and other crimes. The accusations stem from Doyle’s role as founder and director of the Institute for International Sport.

RIPR FILE

Edward Fitzpatrick, who has been The Providence Journal's political columnist since 2008, is leaving to become the director of media and public relations for Roger Williams University.

The change is effective October 5.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

With just a couple of weeks of summer left, the season for leaf peeping is fast approaching.

All this week, we’ll bring you more stories from The Big Switch: New England’s Energy Moment. It comes from the New England News Collaborative, a name you may have heard on Rhode Island Public Radio over the past couple of months. You may be wondering what that is. Well, eight public radio stations, including

Rhode Island Public Radio, are partnering up to cover some of the most pressing issues across New England. 

Angela Evancie / Vermont Public Radio File Photo

New England now gets nearly 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources - with more on the way. But that change is posing challenges for the region’s electric grid. The Big Switch: New England's Energy Moment looks at this transformative time for how the region powers itself.

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