PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo, joined by Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, Rep. Deborah Ruggiero and state Energy Commissioner Carol Grant, hosted a ceremonial bill signing of legislation that will enhance the state's renewable energy policies, create green jobs, and help move the state's energy sector toward a clean, sustainable, reliable future.
"This legislation reflects forward-thinking energy policies that will help us meet our state energy goals," Raimondo said. "With its passage, we can continue to create jobs, connect Rhode Islanders with more cost-effective energy options, and reduce our carbon footprint."
Raimondo and SolarCity National Field Campaigns Deputy Director Christy Plumer also announced today that SolarCity will be expanding operations in Rhode Island. The expansion is in large part due to the work of Governor Raimondo and the General Assembly to build the clean energy economy - particularly the state's efforts to expand net metering and allow residents to install solar through a lease or power purchase agreement - as well as the Governor's recent meeting with SolarCity in California. SolarCity operation centers typically have approximately 100 employees when fully staffed.
"We are grateful that Governor Raimondo and the Rhode Island legislature support clean energy and the solar business economy by signing legislation that expands net metering and makes solar more accessible for Rhode Islanders," said SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. "We look forward to increasing our solar product offerings in the Ocean State."
The bill signing at the Newport Vineyards follows the passage of bills sponsored by Rep. Ruggiero, Rep. Aaron Regunberg, Rep. Lauren Carson, Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture Chairwoman Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski, Sen. Erin Lynch Prata, and Sen. William Conley:
• (H8354A, S2450B) - extends the Renewable Energy Fund, enhances the Renewable Energy Growth (REG) program, expands virtual net metering and offers third-party financing for homeowners and businesses
• (H7413A, S2185A) - extends the Renewable Energy Standard
• (H7890, S2328) - incorporates clean energy into the areas of focus of the Governor's Workforce Board
• (H8180, S2174) - prepares for the development of a statewide solar permit process
"These bills represent our continued commitment not only to a more sustainable future, one in which much more of our energy is generated from clean, renewable sources right here in Rhode Island, but also greater investments in creating better career opportunities for Rhode Islanders in the rapidly expanding green industries," Paiva Weed said. "Green jobs in Rhode Island grew by 40 percent from 2014 to 2015 alone. Doing everything we can to continue and expand that growth and position our state as a leader in those industries will pay off in the form of well-paying jobs, successful businesses and greater prosperity for Rhode Island."
"When I led the Small Business Renewable Energy Task Force in 2010, Rhode Island didn't even have a comprehensive, cohesive renewable energy policy and it was difficult to get financing to build renewable installations here," Ruggiero said. "In just six years, we've gone from being a laggard to a leader in renewable energy, and these bills further advance our state's opportunities for growth in generating renewable energy. With this legislation, we've allowed businesses and homeowners to build off-site renewable energy installations, just as municipalities have been able to do for years, expanded the distributed generation pilot program into the Renewable Energy Growth Fund and allowed third-party financing. All of these changes put renewable energy generation within reach for many more Rhode Islanders, strengthening our economy while diversifying our state's energy sources and reducing our carbon footprint."
"We are so grateful, not only to the Governor and the General Assembly, but to the many stakeholders who have been a part of this process," Grant said. "Our collaborative push to bring clean, reliable, diversified energy to Rhode Island has resulted in substantial progress toward our energy goals. There is much more work to be done, and I am proud to be part of the team that is leading that charge."