PROVIDENCE, RI – A bold, new action plan spearheaded by General Treasurer Seth Magaziner that will put Rhode Islanders back to work and energize the state's clean energy economy was signed into law today by Governor Gina M. Raimondo.
The Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank (RIIB) is one of several new economic-development programs included in the FY2016 Jobs Budget to boost job growth, improve energy efficiency and make the state more economically competitive.
"The Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank is a great example of how the Treasurer's Office can promote economic growth by finding creative ways to finance infrastructure projects," said Treasurer Magaziner. "This new law represents smart economic and energy policy and I am thrilled to celebrate its passage today."
In addition to bringing much-needed construction jobs to the state, the RIIB will help businesses, homeowners and municipalities save on utility costs. The new state treasury initiative is supported by a broad-based coalition of business, labor and environmental leaders.
"Rhode Island is consistently an outlier for its high cost-of-doing-business, which is why proposals like these aimed at lowering energy costs and expanding the state's economic development tool-box are very important. Treasurer Magaziner's Infrastructure Bank accomplishes both of these goals, and helps pave the way for smarter, more innovative infrastructure finance," said Laurie White, President of the greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.
"The Infrastructure Bank will provide needed employment opportunities for Rhode Island's building and construction trades, which is very important for our still-recovering industry. We are excited about the Infrastructure Bank's potential to spur construction growth, and applaud the Treasurer for his efforts," said George Nee, President of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO.
"We applaud the Treasurer's plan to expand the mission of the Clean Water Finance Agency to include lending programs designed to encourage investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency, brownfield remediation, and green infrastructure. This proposal builds upon what is already working, leverages limited state resources, and will help address serious environmental problems that affect all Rhode Islanders," said Jonathan Stone, Executive Director of Save The Bay.
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, Magaziner's initiative 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.
The budget bill, which includes the RIIB as Article 14, will take effect on July 1, 2015.
For more information on the RIIB, please visit http://treasury.ri.gov/infrastructure/.