R.I. Treasury Initiative Will Create Jobs, Spur Construction
PROVIDENCE, RI – General Treasurer Seth Magaziner's Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank (RIIB) proposal was overwhelmingly approved this evening by the House of Representatives. The initiative is a part of the Governor's FY2016 Jobs Budget, which was passed unanimously by the House.
The RIIB is a proposal that will put Rhode Islanders back to work, improve energy efficiency and make the state more economically competitive. In addition to bringing much-needed construction jobs to the state, the RIIB will help businesses, homeowners and municipalities save on utility costs.
Building on the strong track record of the Clean Water Finance Agency, which helps Rhode Island's cities and towns fund storm water, drinking water, and road and bridge projects, Treasurer Magaziner's proposal will rename this agency the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank and add new programs devoted to improving the state's energy efficiency.
The first new program will fund energy retrofits for public buildings. By taking advantage of federal funds for energy efficiency projects, to which Rhode Island is entitled but has not used, the RIIB will establish this program at a minimal cost to the state.
An extensive energy retrofit to a building can provide energy savings as high as 20-30 percent, and "every dollar a municipality saves on energy costs can be redirected to fixing roads, improving education or providing tax relief for hard-working Rhode Islanders," said Treasurer Magaziner.
In addition to a retrofit program for public buildings, the RIIB will administer a new energy efficiency program for commercial and residential property owners as well - the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) model, which has been successfully financing energy efficiency projects in other states for years.
Under the PACE model, Rhode Islanders will be able to access affordable bank loans for energy efficiency upgrades to their buildings that will allow them to realize net energy savings right away. Should the building change hands, the new owner, who will assume the benefits of the lower energy costs, will also assume responsibility for the loan. PACE relies primarily on private capital from banks, with minimal taxpayer cost.
"I am very pleased that the budget includes the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank and I thank Speaker Mattiello and the House of Representatives for supporting Treasury's plan to put Rhode Islanders back to work," said Treasurer Magaziner. "The Infrastructure Bank will not only create new jobs, but will also save cities and towns money on their energy costs and reduce Rhode Island's carbon footprint. This is a major win for our state."
The budget bill, which includes the RIIB as Article 14, will be considered by the Senate Finance Committee tomorrow, June 17, 2015. For more information on the RIIB, please visit http://treasury.ri.gov/infrastructure/.